Sep 1, 2013
Nick Marshall passed for 99 yards in his Auburn debut Saturday (Anthony Hall photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Quarterback Nick Marshall had an uneven first half.
First-game jitters? "I would say so," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. "I think a lot of our guys had jitters starting out. But he settled down and I think the game settled down for him."
And it did in Auburn's 31-24 season-opening win over Washington State in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night. Marshall, who won the starting quarterback race in the middle of August, hit only 2-of-8 passes in the first half, but came back to hit 8-of-11 passes in the second half.
"After the first half I started getting confidence," Marshall said.
He finished with a modest 99 yards passing, watching instead Auburn's running game pile up 297 yards, which included his 27 yards on the ground. Auburn's rushing yards didn't even account for starting tailback Tre Mason's 100-yard kickoff return.
Marshall said he was OK with all of that running.
"I really wasn't worried about throwing the ball much — just stick to the game plan and try to get the victory," Marshall said.
Marshall had a couple of his passes dropped. And he overthrew some others. "Just too much on it. I put that on me," he said. But Marshall managed the second half, keeping Auburn in front throughout.
"We just had a game plan coming into the game, so at halftime we didn’t adjust anything, we just stuck to our game plan," Marshall said.
Malzahn said Marshall wasn't fazed at halftime.
"He didn’t say much," Malzahn said. "He’s just real calm and he was wanting to know where the adjustments were. He really handled himself well."
Malzahn was starting his eight different quarterback in his eight years as a college coach. He's seen it all.
"There were a couple things communication-wise we’ll get better on, but overall I liked the way he handled himself," he said. "He protected the football and that’s hard to do. They were showing him a lot of different looks and trying to disguise some things."
Marshall took the blame for the overthrown passes.
"Sometimes," Malzahn said, "it takes awhile when you've got a quarterback for four weeks trying to get timing with everything...We’ll just keep working."
Even Washington State coach Mike Leach may keep an eye on Marshall.
"I am just kind of curious about him after he gets more games under his belt," he said.
Marshall, too, will be looking to the future, trying to fix things that happened on opening night.
"They were the kind of mistakes that can be corrected," he said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine