Nick Marshall was one of the bigger surprises in college football last season as he helped guide the Auburn Tigers to an SEC championship and a berth in the BCS Championship Game after beginning his college career as a defensive back with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Marshall and Auburn fell a few seconds of their second national title in four years, but based on the early reviews from the Tiger’s spring practice, Gus Malzahn’s team could be back in the mix for a shot at the title this year based on the rapid progress Marshall has made as a passer.
"“Nick’s a very talented player, not just running, he can really throw it,” Malzahn said. “I know I said that a lot during the fall, but now that he’s got a spring, he’ll be more comfortable, more reactive and we feel very good about him throwing the football.”“It’s just the way he’s carrying himself,” Malzahn said. “You can tell he’s getting more comfortable, and the game’s a lot slower for him. He’s had a solid first week.”"
Imagining what Marshall can do in this offense with the threat of a passing game is something that will keep opposing SEC defensive coordinators up late at night, especially considering Sammie Coates returns after leading the team in receiving.
Coates said, “Nick’s throwing the ball real good. … It’s going to be a shock to the world what he’s going to do when he puts it all together.” Fellow receiver Quan Bray said he’s seeing an “NFL-caliber quarterback” already in spring.
As prolific as Auburn’s top-ranked rushing attack was last year, the passing game left a lot to be desired as they finished 106th in the nation with 173 yards per game. With the addition of No. 1 ranked junior college transfer D’haquille Williams and Coates, Bray and tight end C.J. Uzomah returning it’s reasonable to expect 225 yards per game.
With a nice balance between the pass and the run this year for Auburn, it’s possible the Tigers could be even scarier on offense that they were a year ago when they averaged 39.5 points per game.