Dec. 16, 2013
Auburn's Nick Marshall pushes his way to a touchdown in the SEC Championship Game (Lauren Barnard photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Coach Gus Malzahn hinted there's more in the playbook, just in case, and there's more that quarterback Nick Marshall can still do.
Welcome to the start of BCS Championship Game practice for the Auburn Tigers.
Auburn returned to the practice field Monday in its first work since winning the SEC championship with a lot of work for the younger players, Malzahn said. The Tigers will take a side trip to Nick Marshall, and work on the things he missed when he arrived after spring practice.
Yeah, the same Nick Marshall who has helped Auburn to a 12-1 record and has accounted for 23 touchdowns, passed for 1,759 yards and run for 1,023 more for Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
"This is the first time, other than the two off weeks, we're able to focus on some little things that I know he and Coach Lashlee are working extremely hard on," Malzahn said.
Malzahn has stressed all season that Marshall didn't go through spring practice and that it would take time for him to catch on. He made a move by passing the Tigers down the field to beat Mississippi State in the third game, and began mastering the read-option keeper in Game 5 against Ole Miss.
Malzahn said Marshall has developed as a passer.
"I think he's gotten more comfortable. He has a big-time arm. The more comfortable he gets, the better we'll be executing the passing game," he said.
"He's doing a great job with his decision-making."
But the Tigers have run to the top of the NCAA rushing charts after smashing Missouri for 545 yards on the ground and 677 yards overall. Tre Mason made it to New York for the Heisman Trophy announcement when he rushed for 304 yards in that game.
Marshall quietly rushed for 101 yards against Missouri, too.
What's next for his offense?
"We've haven't used all of it at times because we've been able to run the football effectively," Malzahn said. "You've always got to be prepared that if they take away something, you've got to have an answer. We'll try to continue to try to get better at the different things that we need to. And what I call them the 'what ifs.' We've got to be able to have an answer if they take something away."
Malzahn shared his Eddie Robinson award -- his second national coach of the year honor so far -- with his team and assistants.
"That's a true blessing and it's a tribute to our assistant coaches, which have done a wonderful job, and a tribute to our players," Malzahn said. "When you win you get awards. But this is a group award. Any time you get a head coaching award it's a group thing."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: