Aug. 18, 2014
Nick Marshall's passing has impressed in preseason work
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn freshmen and hopefuls battled to impress their coaches, battled to grab headlines the first two weeks of fall camp.
Now, veterans, it's time to work on game plans.
Auburn ended its first phase of preseason practice Sunday, the one devoted of trying to place young players on the depth chart, and will begin more serious work Tuesday following Monday's off day for the first day of the fall semester.
So far, it's been so good, said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on Sunday night, from the likes of freshman lineman Braden Smith, who has muscled his way into the playing rotation, to the play of fellow newcomer and receiver Duke Williams, to speedy freshman receiver Stanton Truitt, to five running backs who will vie for playing time.
Auburn named Daniel Carlson its do-everything punter and kicker, and Sean White as its No. 3 quarterback over the weekend.
Now, it'll be about Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson, Sammie Coates, Ricardo Louis and Quan Bray. Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne. The experienced offensive and defensive lines. The linebackers and DBs.
It all begins somewhere, and, for Lashlee, it begins with Marshall and Auburn's renewed emphasis on the passing game. Last seen, Marshall was 8-of-8 passing in a 7-on-7 drill.
"He's been very sharp," Lashlee said. "He worked very hard over the summer. He just knows his guys. Even the guys who are second team he's repped with a lot the last year and a half. Our passing game, at least in practice, has developed the way you'd hope it would when guys get more and more time together.
"Now, it's just the matter of doing it when it matters on game day."
Ah, game day. The first one is Aug. 30 against Arkansas at 3 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Lashlee says he isn't sure how Auburn will use Marshall in his first game following an off-season citation following a traffic stop, but he does know that his quarterback has handled things well.
"Honestly," Lashlee said, "I haven’t been surprised. I would say I’d be disappointed if he didn’t handle it this way. He’s handled it very well."
Marshall and Johnson will get much of the quarterback work now, and the three scrimmages in which they often just watched will be a footnote to their preseason duties.
Practice now, said Lashlee, "changes a lot."
"You get a little more detailed personnel-wise. You get more specific on what you rep. You don't just call plays and rep things, because now we've been able to evaluate everybody. We're going to put them where they need to be and now we can really focus in on a game plan and scheme. We're not going against our defense as much, and our defense is maybe nothing like Arkansas. We may not be anything like Arkansas to them. So we'll really be specific on what we're calling and to what looks to make sure we're maximizing every rep and every moment to give our guys a picture of what we expect to see, to some degree, two weeks from Saturday.
"It really just gets more narrowed down, more specific, very detailed, not a lot of wasted motion of any kind. Guys that aren't going to be in the mix aren't getting reps, and that's just the way it is. We can really just kind of hone in on exactly what we want to carry. For a guy like a true freshman, he's learning the whole book -- or at least what we've put in to this point. Now, he can narrow down and learn the game plan. When you've got to make adjustments in-game, our older guys are prepared to do that.
"We can maybe do something in a game that we haven't repped in the last week or do, but we've got to do that. A younger guy, he can really zero in, like, 'Hey, if I know this game plan and the amount of time I'll be playing, I'll probably be OK.' So it condenses things for them."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: