Dec. 6, 2013
Nick Marshall has developed into one of the SEC's top quarterbacks (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
ATLANTA -- Gus Malzahn has put a number of how just far quarterback Nick Marshall has come this season.
"The very first game he knew 25 percent of our offense," Malzahn said. "He got better each week."
As in being named SEC player of the week three times, and accounting for 17 touchdowns in Auburn's eight-game winning streak, and leading Auburn to four last-minute wins, and for throwing for 339 yards in one game and rushing for 214 yards in another.
And in helping lead Auburn to an 11-1 record and a spot in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Missouri at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Georgia Dome.
"He's at his best when the game is on the line. When the pressure is the most, he finds a way to get it done. He's been a lot of fun to coach and a lot of fun to watch," Malzahn said.
Marshall has passed for 1,627 yards and 11 touchdowns. But he's a dual-threat problem for defenses because he can run. He leads all SEC quarterbacks in rushing with 922 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he and tailback Tre Mason have combined for 2,239 yards and 28 rushing touchdowns.
Look for Auburn to try to run against Missouri, too, especially considering the Tigers ran for almost 300 yards in last week's 34-28 win over Alabama and its top-ranked defense last week.
"You do what got you here," Malzahn said during an SEC media event in the Georgia Dome on Friday. "You hope you're successful with your strengths.
"I really believe Nick Marshall can throw the football. He's gotten better each week with his decision making. He's got a great arm.
"I really believe if he's called upon, he'll be able to do it."
Marshall and Mason have grabbed many of the headlines this season. Chris Davis and his 109-yard return of a missed field goal became Auburn lore in the win over Alabama. But Malzahn said don't forget about the defense.
"Our defense has really complemented our offense," Malzahn said. "They came through time and time again when our offense was struggling or needed a lift.
"You think about last week, fourth quarter, big stops. We've been one of the better teams in the red zone. That's really helped us. But or defense deserves a lot of credit for why we're here."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine