Sep 8, 2013
Nick Marshall finds running room in Saturday’s 38-9 victory over Arkansas State (Anthony Hall photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – For quarterback Nick Marshall, there were no jitters this time. He knew what he could do with his arm and his legs, and he went out and did it Saturday as Auburn beat down Arkansas State 38-9 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Marshall, in his second Auburn game, led the Tigers on a 67-yard touchdown drive on the their first possession. And he had to overcome some adversity to do it. A holding penalty and a false start had left Marshall looking at a third-and-16 at the Arkansas State 18-yard line. He threw a sizzling strike to freshman Marcus Davis, who snared for the first catch of his career and an Auburn touchdown.
On the second Auburn possession, Marshall had a 25-yard run and a 16-yard run, setting up Corey Grant’s 16-yard touchdown run.
With 2:20 left in the second quarter, he hit wide receiver Sammie Coates in stride for a 68-yard touchdown that gave the Tigers a 21-3 lead.
It was that kind of game for the Marshall, who arrived over the summer from Garden City (Kan.) Community College and won the starting job.
"I had a lot of fun," Marshall said when it was over.
From head coach Gus Malzahn to his teammates, the going opinion was that Marshall a different quarterback in his second start than in his first.
“I felt way more in rhythm,” Marshall said. “I talked to Coach Malzahn before the game and he told me to do what I do best, relax and play ball. I went out there and did what I can do.”
He also talked with backup Jonathan Wallace, who started four games as a true freshman last season.
“He told me to just be cool, calm and collected,” Marshall said, “so that’s what I did.
Marshall finished 10-for-17 passing for 147 yards and two touhdowns. He rushed eight times for 53 yards, despite a 12 yards in losses.
“The coaches told me to make plays,” Marshall said. “I’m blessed to have the ability to do that.”
All wasn’t as he wanted it. He overthrew wide-open tight end C.J. Uzomah for what would have been a big play. He lost a fumble at the Auburn 24. But other than those two plays, there wasn’t much to complain about.
“I think he improved,” Malzahn said. “There are some things he’d like to have back. He made a very good throw on the long touchdown. Then, he did a good job with the zone reads. He had some rushing yards that helped us.”
Marshall guided a running game that churned out 301 yards – 101 by Cameron Artis-Payne, 99 by Tre Mason and 40 by Corey Grant.
“It helps having a quarterback that can run and get us out of trouble,” Grant said.
Marshall returned the compliment, praising Grant, Mason and Artis-Payne.
“I call them the three-headed monster,” Marshall said. “They are all special. They can pop a run anytime you need it. I’m blessed to have them in the backfield with me.”
And then there was the offensive line.
“The offensive line did a great job tonight,” Marshall said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Next Saturday, Marshall will get his first taste of playing quarterback against Southeastern Conference competition when Mississippi State visits Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“We are going to start getting ready tomorrow,” Marshall said. “We are going to go out next week and try to do the same thing we did tonight.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: