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Dual-threat: Auburn, Kansas State QBs bring the offense
Sept. 17, 2014

Nick Marshall can pass, and he can run, too, as he did against San Jose State

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Ellis Johnson understands the trend toward runaway offenses and games that produce a gazillion points.
"Basically, it's whatever fills those seats and cuts those TV sets on," says Auburn's coordinator.
Auburn's defensive coordinator. You know, the guy in charge of the defense.
Johnson's defense is off to a good start in this age of college football. Auburn hasn't allowed a second-half touchdown, and that's something it will take to Kansas State for Thursday's 6:30 p.m. game on ESPN.
Johnson only has to look at his own SEC to see what he faces this season: Winning SEC teams have scored in the 70s twice, the 60s once, the 50s six times, the 40s eight times, the 30s 13 times and the 20s two times.
Kansas State isn't in the SEC, but its dual-threat quarterback, Jake Waters, promises to be a handful. He leads the Wildcats in passing, of course, and rushing. Auburn will trot out its own dual-threat QB in Nick Marshall, who passed for 2,000 yards and ran for a 1,000 more last season.
Still, Johnson said, "Their offense is not like ours. They do a lot of things where it's a more designed run for the quarterback to run it as opposed to an option run where he may run it.
"But I think either one of those two players could be really good in either offense, because they're both very talented, skilled. They're both really good dual-threats, but it would be hard to compare them because they're doing two different systems."
But there are similarities. Both teams will line up and look to the sidelines for the last-minute call. Both teams have different ways to score.
Waters, said coach Gus Malzahn, is "like a running back." And, "he can really throw the football."
And, like Marshall, Waters will operate the zone-read, where he may hand off or keep it.
"He's a true dual-threat," Malzahn said.
And that means, said Auburn linebacker Kris Frost, "he can beat you throwing as well as on his feet."
"They have a lot of great receivers, and you can tell that they're really disciplined as a team. We've really compared them to ourselves as far as how disciplined they are and all the threats that they pose. We're going to have our hands full, but we've prepared well, and we're ready."
Plus, Kansas State runs the Wildcat on occasion.
"They put a lot of people back there to try and get you a little rattled with the Wildcat stuff as well as the quarterback being able to run it," Frost said.
Or, just something else for Johnson to worry about. 
"That's just the way football has evolved. You go back when football started, there was not even a forward pass. So all of these things that have occurred over the last 15-20 years, they're just like the things that have occurred over the last 60 years. 
"Kids are coming along now and early on they're learning how to throw and how to run routes and all that. Linemen are bigger than they were. You couldn't even block with your hands 25 years ago. You couldn't pass block the way people were running offenses now if they didn't change the rules. So they changed the rules to make the game more exciting and more fan-friendly. And it's just part of it. It doesn't make my job any more difficult than it does a guy on the other side of the field who's trying to stop us. So it's all relative."
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder understands.
"We've been blessed to have those `dual threat' guys over a period of time and we like to have that," Snyder said. "It's the way the system works for us. It plays to our advantage when you are doing something that people haven't seen over a period of time. That is the nature of football  what goes around comes around."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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