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Malzahn Puts His Finger Prints on the Auburn Program

By on August 19th, 2013 in Football 13 Comments »

The naming of Nick Marshall as starting quarterback was about as anti-climatic as when Cam Newton grabbed the job in 2010. And that’s where the comparisons between the two should stop.

With only a month of practice before taking the field against Washington St. on Aug. 31, expectations need to be muted. Regardless of what former coaches and teammates say about the talented JUCO transfer, the truth is, he’s nowhere near the level Newton was when he took the field at Jordan-Hare the first time.

And that’s ok.

Auburn doesn’t need him to be the next Heisman winner. Right now, coaches would we be happy with Brandon Cox. In fact, you probably couldn’t punch the smile off Malzahn’s face if he were given that guarantee today.

Marshall shined as a JUCO star last season. He was one of the best prep players in Georgia history. And he may still be wearing red and black today had Aaron Murray not grabbed the reigns in Athens.

Sound familiar?

Pushing those comparisons aside, Marshall lacks the size of Newton, coming in four inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter. His 3,142 yards passing and 1,095 rushing while at Garden City Community College were impressive, but equally concerning was his 20 interceptions and eight fumbles.

Malzahn says he’s shown none of those deficiencies so far and that’s not surprising considering the upgrade in coaching Marshall has now. However, comparing the two is like comparing Krystal to Wendy’s. You can’t do it.

When Auburn takes the field in 11 days, let’s not play the comparison game. It wouldn’t be fair to the kid and it will likely lead to a letdown among Auburn fans. Marshall likely will never be Cam Newton. If he does become some variation, it will probably be next season, not now.

Let’s enjoy the ride…

Gus Malzahn wasted little time making his point. I’m not talking about naming Nick Marshall his starting quarterback. The bigger announcement on Saturday was the release of last year’s leading tackler, Demetruce McNeal.

Considering the lack of depth Auburn has in the defensive secondary, it would be understandable, almost expected for Malzahn to impose a two or three game suspension and have McNeal ready for Miss State. Let’s see how long Alabama cornerback Geno Smith sits out following his DUI arrest over the weekend.

Being arrested with marijuana these days rarely means the end of one’s college career. Had Trooper Taylor been in charge, he’d probably only miss the ice cream social the night before the first game.

Malzahn’s actions Saturday speak louder than anything he’s done to date as head coach. The days of running wild, especially with former players from last year’s sorry team, are long gone. Now we know why players laughed when they were questioned about whether Malzahn was a disciplinarian.

More than picking a quarterback, kicking McNeal to the curb sets the stage for how business will be conducted going forward. To listen to those inside the program, Gene Chizik’s undoing was turning his head the other way and letting position coaches have more influence than needed.

By the time Chizik exited stage left in November, he had lost all control. Malzahn is determined not to let that happen on his watch. Good Start.


  1. audude audude says:

    Good start and good read.

    See y’all for the WSU game… War Eagle!

  2. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    Good article Jay.

    You’ve got to be impressed with the discipline measures that Malzahn has brought to The Plains. McNeal is the third guy to run afoul of Gus’ standards. And he has shown that it doesn’t matter if your a redshirt freshman or a senior and the leading tackler on the team. So far he has dismissed the following players:

    DT (Jr.) Devaunte Sigler dismissed in March for violation of team rules.
    TE (RSF) Ricky Parks dismissed during fall camp for violation of team rules.
    S (Sr.) Demetrice McNeal dismissed during fall camp for marijuana possession.

    I hope the other guys are getting the message … Don’t mess with Gus – he means business.

  3. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Outstanding. Discipline comes before success.

  4. buddy Ro buddy Ro says:

    Good Start.

    No matter how much we applaud the discipline… losing those 3 hurts.

    When can we expect a 2-deep to come out?

    DE, DT, S, HB, WR, RB,… LB, …

    other than QB, is there a position unit settled on at all?

  5. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    The only dismissal I see hurting us this season is McNeal.

  6. restless6 says:

    Wow. Dee Ford is out for the opener as is Jonathan Jones. Ford got moved to corner.

    This is bad.

  7. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    My hat’s off to coach Gus for his discipline It doesn’t matter who we lose or how much it hurts, if they can’t follow the rules, they need to be sent off and we don’t need them. Lack of discipline will hurt a team in the long haul.


    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

  8. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    Nice read Jay, as always. To me, you can’t have enough discipline. To be a successful team, you have to be in lock step together performing towards a common goal. In no other sport does the execution of each player normally determine the outcome and degree of success of each play on the field. Aside from talent, discipline is the most important thing for a football team to have. All you have to do is look at the liberal arts school up the road to see how the two can be melded together to acheive spectacular results. It was pretty obvious that CGC forgot that somewhere along the way.
    As a coach I think you have to impose the same kind of discpline on your players as you would your own children, because many of them look up to the coaches as father figures already. They need and crave discipline, even if they initially rebel against it. The key is, if you wouldn’t accept that behavior from your child, you shouldn’t accept it from your players. As so many have said before, every player that steps foot on Pat Dye field in Jordan Hare Stadium, represents our University and all the greats who have come before them. It is a privelege to have that opportunity, and to wear the Orange and Blue. Anyone who brings shame or dishonor to that institution is not needed and is not welcome. Gus gets it….thank God….and while we may have a temporary defecit in talent as we transition to how a REAL team operates, we will be so much better off in the long run because of it.

    Oh and until Nick Marshall runs over a 230lb SEC linebacker to score a touchdown on 4th and 3 from the 3 yard line, he’s not getting compared to Cam Newton…..and thats just the tip of the iceberg. Cam is one of the greatest talents that the game has ever scene and more importantly worked behind one of the greatest lines Auburn ever had. Boy, what could we do with Mike Berry right now?! If Nick is somewhere between Brandon Cox and Dameyune Craig, I’ll be ecstatic with sparks shooting out of my ears.

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      “Until Nick Marshall runs over a 230lb SEC linebacker to score a touchdown on 4th and 3 from the 3 yard line, he’s not getting compared to Cam Newton…”

      You got that right Col. But what an improvement it will be over 2012 if he’ll just protect the football and run the offense efficiently.

      While I personally would have like to see McNeal get a few game suspensions – I understand why Gus has to be tough in light of what has taken place in the last couple of years. The team has got to respect (and maybe even fear) the coaches.

      Good read Jay.

  9. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I’m glad that CGM is coming in hard and fast. I’m in the camp that believes marijuana should be legal–BUT for now it is not. Also, there has been a scourge of inappropriate use in recent teams-which only lead to trouble and ineffective play on the field.

    The act also shows that CGM isn’t going to have different standards depending on your position in the depth chart.

  10. restless6 says:

    Saban discipline vs Gus discipline:

    McNeal dismissed due to MJ.

    Smith arrested for DUI over the weekend, and already back to practice.

    I’ll take Gus over Saban any day. Alabama has layed down with the dogs to win at any cost. The LSU people know what kind of program he runs, the boogs will find out soon.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      ……Kind of disappointed in Nicky on this one. Arguably, DUI is way worse a danger to others than smoking pot is. I guess as long as you keep doing right in practice at the Capstone… and keep helping Bama win?

      • restless6 says:

        Yep. This sends a terrible signal to the UA players, students and fans.

        I’m not surprised though. Win at all costs, including character and integrity for the boogs.