Malzahn Puts His Finger Prints on the Auburn Program
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.
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.