Auburn Could be a Nightmare for SEC Defenses in 2014
(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.”
Compared to the championship season the Tigers had in 2013? … That prospect has to be a nightmare for SEC defensive coordinators.