March 25, 2014
Senior quarterback Nick Marshall looks to pass during Tuesday’s practice (Lauren Barnard photo)
AUBURN, Ala. – Senior Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall vowed to take his passing game to a higher level, and his teammates say he’s done that in a big way through four days of spring practice.
"I’m seeing an NFL caliber quarterback already," senior wide receiver Quan Bray said. "He’s making throws he wasn’t making in the spring last year. He’s leading us and being that guy we can lean on, and he can lean on us."
Bray says Marshall, who arrived from Garden City (Kan.) Community College last summer, led the Tigers to a 12-2 record and the Southeastern Conference championship. But Bray says he’s even a more consistent and confident player now
"He knows everybody and we know him," Bray said. "He’s to the point where everything is clicking. He knows the offense. He’s throwing the ball where he’s supposed to and making the right reads."
Junior wide receiver Sammie Coates says Marshall will do big things on the field.
"Nick is throwing the ball real well this spring," Coates said. "He’s making great reads. He’s going to shock the world with what he does."
As Auburn won nine consecutive games en route to the BCS Championship Game last season, Marshall and departed tailback Tre Mason dazzled defenses with the zone read. Tailback Cameron Artis-Payne says Marshall will do that and more in 2014.
"It’s just him being comfortable and knowing his reads right away, going through the progressions quicker," Artis-Payne said. "He’s hitting on more deep balls than he used to. I think he’s going to have a really big year."
Corey Grant: Full speed ahead
Running back Corey Grant isn't the biggest guy around, but that won't stop him from showing he's not afraid to mix it up.
"That’s one thing I do want to do, establish myself, because you know it’s a question if I can run between the tackles, I want to get that established throughout spring and going into the fall, letting everybody know I can do that."
That said, Grant said he doesn't mind being called the "speed guy."
"I like that. It’s kind of to my advantage, my speed is a little bit more of me than power, but I accept that role and like that role," Grant said.
-- Charles Goldberg
Cameron Artis-Payne says he can do it
Tre Mason rushed for 1,800 yards last season. Cameron Artis-Payne said he could have a big year, too.
"I definitely feel like with those carries that I could do something similar. I could put up those types of numbers," Artis-Payne said.
-- Charles Goldberg
An interesting ride for Quan Bray
Wide receiver Quan Bray has arrived at his final Auburn season, and he marveled Tuesday at what he has seen and experienced.
"It’s a blessing to make it this far," Bray said. "A lot of people don’t get this chance. I’ve seen a lot, been through a lot – a coaching change, a 3-9 season, the next season going to the national championship. It’s a blessing to see a lot of different things in life."
Therezie: Going fast good for the defense, too
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has vowed to add more tempo to his hurryup, no-huddle offense, and senior Star Robenson Therezie says that’s good for the defense, too.
"It’s very important," Therezie said. "We run against our own offense ,and it gets us in shape and helps us recognize what the next play is going to be. The pace doesn’t affect us now. I can remember when Coach Malzahn first got here and the pace was difficult. Now we’ve caught on to it and it’s good for us."
Moncrief makes and early impact at safety
Junior college transfer Derrick Moncrief was getting snaps with the first team at boundary safety from the first day of spring practice, and he has captured the attention of his teammates.
"He’s done a good job," senior Star Robenson Therezie said. "He’s learning faster than any other player that has played that position. I feel like that position fits him. He can learn both free and boundary. He can be a guy we can count on to replace some of the veterans we lost last season.
Coates says drops are no longer an issue
Junior wide receiver Sammie Coates was plagued by drop passes through his redshirt freshman season and early last season before going the final seven games without one.
He said Tuesday those problems are in the past.
"It’s behind me," Coates said. "I know if I do drop one at practice, it happens. I can’t let it bother me like I used to do. I know I have to move on and just keep making plays."