Aug. 11, 2014
Rhett Lashlee working the offense in preseason practice
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee spends the most time with the quarterbacks in Auburn practices, so, maybe, we should listen to what he has to say.
What he has to say is he had liked the progress Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson and Jonathan Wallace have made in the initial stage of preseason work.
Lashlee said that Marshall's game could put him in line for post-season awards.
"I don't think there is any question," Lashlee said.
And Johnson, the likely starter on opening day as Marshall serves a punishment for an off-season incident, has "been good." Lashlee says the team is looking for a role for Wallace to contribute more.
"Jonathan's that guy that I could sit up here for 30 minutes and sing Jonathan's praises," Lashlee said. "There's not a better young man on our team, there's not a better leader on our team, there's not another young man on your team you'd want your daughter to marry someday. He's phenomenal, he's a good player, he's a competitor and we're going to find ways for him to help this team."
But Marshall and Johnson have the stats and the wins from last season, and they'll line up 1-2 on the depth chart.
"Nick's been steady from Day 1. He's been really good."
Lashlee said Marshall is improving, and particularly threw well Saturday.
"But the best part was there were times he just made great decision. No. 1, 2 and 3 weren't there and he hit the fourth guy. From the standpoint of about, I keep saying three days ago, it was probably Thursday or Friday practice.
"Our seniors and our guys we were really counting on have led, and Nick has been right at the front of that and I've been really proud of that."
Lashlee said Marshall's improvement has been "night and day."
"He obviously improved a lot in the spring; he's a lot further along now than he was in the spring," Lashlee said. "His footwork's good. He rarely makes errant throws because he's off balance or because he's not doing the proper footwork and those fundamentals you ask of him. He's really bought in and worked on it himself and he's got very consistent, which I think's made him made a more consistent passer and quarterback."
"Jeremy's best days have probably been the last three or four days," Lashlee said Sunday. "He's throwing the ball really well, starting to make good decisions. We're getting better throwing and catching the ball just because of repetition, timing and continuity. It's been really good the last couple of days. I'll say this: just from a leadership standpoint, I've seen a little bit of a change that he's more confident stepping up and it doesn't matter if it's a guy older than him or not -- and taking charge of his group when he's out there."
Lashlee said he's following a simple path in splitting up practice time.
"We haven't done anything different because we haven't gotten into working on an opponent," Lashlee said. "If Nick goes with the first group, Jeremy the second group and there are times I give Jeremy reps with the first group and either Nick with the other group or just slide another quarterback in with the other groups. Jeremy is getting plenty of reps with both groups, Nick is getting all the reps he needs. Until we get into game plan mode, I haven't really worried about that."
Lashlee said Wallace has occasionally been working with special teams coach Scott Fountain.
"I know he's been doing some holding and some other things," Lashlee said.
"He's also a guy at quarterback that if a guy or two goes down, I know we can put him in. He can run our entire offense; he knows exactly what to do and I trust him. Situations will maybe dictate what his role is throughout the year, but we're doing our best to give him opportunities to have roles, even if he's not at quarterback, to help our team."
The fourth quarterback is rookie Sean White, who is learning the game in a backup role, tough he was one of the prime quarterbacks in last week's scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Overall, Lashlee says he's been pleased with the offense.
"The day after that first scrimmage, we really challenged them and those leaders have stepped up ever since. I really feel like those guys have practiced the way we want them to practice," Lashlee said. "That's everything from the tempo has been great to the leadership has been great and the execution has been well. Even when execution hasn't been good, they have practiced from start to finish. We haven't had a lot of ups and downs in practice and I think we have gotten better."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: