Auburn Could be a Nightmare for SEC Defenses in 2014

By Posted on: June 11th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 5 Comments »
14O2O7.AuSt.70- Nick runs over Tenn. - Auburn media, anthony hall

                                                                                                                                                    (photo:Auburn media, Anthony Hall)
He signed to play for Auburn out of junior college and even though Gus Malzahn said he was a, “great athlete, an impact player (that could) come in and give Auburn a chance right off the bat,” he didn’t garner that much press attention heading into the 2013 summer workouts.

Now a year later, there’s been a lot written about Nick Marshall and why not? He more than fulfilled Malzahn’s expectations, having led the Tigers to a birth in the National Championship game.

He has appeared on the cover of several magazines and countless articles have been written touting him as a dangerous player for opposing defenses, a potential Heisman candidate, and the pre-season top quarterback in the SEC.

And 2014 will be the first time in seven years Auburn will not have a quarterback controversy heading into summer camp. It has to be a strange but welcome turn of events for Malzahn who will have his first ever returning quarterback since he became a college coach some eight years ago.

Gus chose Marshall as his starter because Nick gave Auburn, “the best opportunity to win football games.” His seasoned leadership as a winner in high school and at Garden City Kansas Community College were the catalyst for the Tigers’ big wins on their way to the 2013 SEC Championship.

He proved he had the “it” factor with those big fourth-quarter come from behind wins against Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama. The lone knock against him was his throwing accuracy (59.4 percent). However, reports out of Auburn are that Nick has made great strides improving in that area during the off season. If Nick only adds five to ten percent in passing efficiency, it will significantly ratchet up the Tigers’ offensive attack.

What he was able to do last season after missing spring practice and arriving on campus barely three weeks before the first game was nothing short of phenomenal. Marshall guided a rushing attack in 2013 that led the nation and was 12th in scoring.

No one is any better at running the zone read than Nick. Remember Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel saying he didn’t know how to stop the Auburn offense? When Nick is running the zone read to perfection it causes the D-Backs and Safeties to come up to cover all the gaps. Now with that same running threat, defenses are going to have to cover more of the field with a new and improved Marshall.

And after being relatively conservative in 2014, the Tigers are expected to open up the playbook in 2014.

Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee said now that Nick has improved his passing skills and knows and better understands the offense, “The Tigers can perfect it and also be able to go to the next step … We can add some things, some wrinkles, and try to give our guys a chance to really be successful.”

Really successful?  

Compared to the championship season the Tigers had in 2013? … That prospect has to be a nightmare for SEC defensive coordinators.

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  1. DothanTiger DothanTiger says:

    No doubt Auburn should have a more balanced attack this year but my concern is how much will the defense improve having to play Bama, Ga. and Miss State on the road. If the defense had been just a little better last year, Auburn may have not come up 13 seconds short. Having said that, I’m looking forward to a more open offense in 2014.

  2. SEC_Eric says:

    Nick looked improved in the spring game and the fact that coaches and players are saying he’s working everyday in the offseason to improve his passing game is encouraging.

    His 59% efficiency last year actually isn’t that bad a rating. There was just some big over or under throws that came at the worst moment (like Ricardo Louis’ sure TD in the Rose Bowl). If he can get it up to 65-68%. it will be even harder to stop the 2014 Tigers.

  3. mvhcpa says:

    I don’t think our running game can be nearly as good with Tre, Jay, and Gerald moved on, but it will still be better than anyone else’s. Add Nick’s improved arm and familiarity with the offense, and one fake may be all it takes to open up a receiver in the middle, who could then take it the rest of the way to the end zone.

    Michael Val
    (who still fears the bane of heightened expectations)

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      Big time players yes but I think the offensive line and the running backs will be ok. I’m worried about how Auburn replaces Jay Prosch in 2014. He’s made from a different mold.

  4. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    The real question won’t be “if” Marshall improves. How much will Marshall improve? is the real question. Auburn’s defense will determine if and how far we go into the playoff.