Phillip Marshall: 10 thoughts on Auburn football

Sep 5, 2013

Ten thoughts on Auburn football as the Tigers prepare for the opportunity to move to 2-0 in Gus Malzahn's first season as head coach when they play Arkansas State at Jordan-hare Stadium on Saturday.

1. There hasn't been much talk about Auburn's offensive line, but there should be. J.B. Grimes' unit was as good as advertised in a 31-24 victory over Washington State, paving the way for 297 rushing yards. The only sack came on Auburn's first offensive play when quarterback Nick Marshall bobbled a low snap. To these less-than-expert eyes, it looked like Reese Dismukes had a particularly good game at center and Greg Robinson did the same at left tackle. Redshirt freshman guard Alex Kozan had a very impressive college debut.

2. Senior defensive end Nosa Eguae seemed to be almost a forgotten man throughout camp. His name was seldom mentioned. But he got the attention of defensive line coach Rodney Garner with his performance against Washington State. Even if he never played another down, Eguae is the kind of man you want on your football team. He's a class act.

3. Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee won't say it out loud, but Auburn seemed to have a very limited offensive package in the opener. It will, no doubt, expand some this week and even more in the weeks ahead.

4. Auburn's defense was far from full strength in the opener and probably won't be full strength Saturday. The absence of senior defensive end Dee Ford, junior star Justin Garrett and senior tackle Jeff Whitaker was certainly felt and will be felt until they return.

5. If holding penalty had not nullified a touchdown run, if Sammie Coates had not stumbled on a deep route and if a handful of passes had not been dropped, the discussion about quarterback Nick Marshall's performance against Washington State would have a very different tone. None of those things were Marshall's doing.

6. Third-and-short was an issue against Washington State, one that must be dealt with in the games ahead. Getting stopped on third-and-1 or third-and-2 kills momentum, stops drives and is generally just bad.

7. Tre Mason's fumble as Auburn drove to put the game away could have been disastrous, but if you watch the video, it was more of a good defensive play than a bad play by Mason. A Washington State defender made a direct hit on the ball from Mason's blind side.

8. Remember David Oku? Auburn recruited him hard for the signing class of 2009, but he signed with Tennessee. Malzahn took him as a transfer at Arkansas State, and now he's the Red Wolves' featured tailback.

9. It's good to see senior Ryan White getting some playing time in the secondary. He's been a good soldier, doing whatever has been asked of him without complaint. He started out last season as a starter, only to be quickly relegated to holding duty.

10. Unless I miss my guess, Josh Holsey is going to be a great football player before he leaves Auburn. Maybe he already is.

Until next time ...