In his debut as Auburn’s newest starting quarterback, Nick Marshall managed a conservative gameplan and carefully led the Tigers to their first win of 2013. Now that he has his feet wet, Marshall is expected to see the playbook open up going forward, according to Justin Lee of the Opelika-Auburn News.
As Lee notes, the Tigers limited the offense by design for Marshall’s first start against Washington State. There will always be growing pains with a new starting quarterback, but think about Marshall’s situation.
He played for Garden City Community College last season, and prior to that, he was situated at cornerback for the Georgia Bulldogs. There shouldn’t have been anyone expecting to see him come out guns blazing in Week 1.
Marshall finished Saturday with 99 yards on 10-for-19 passing. He completed just two passes in the first half while fumbling a snap, taking a sack and overthrowing a few deep balls. Considering that appalling start, he played decent in the second half.
The 99-yard performance was only the ninth time a quarterback has passed for under the century mark in head coach Gus Malzahn’s eight-year career. The Montgomery Advertiser reported Malzahn said his quarterback was “pretty average” in his debut.
But the Tigers have the potential to open up the vertical game. Wideouts Ricardo Louis and Sammie Coates saw opportunities for big plays against the Cougars, according to AL.com. But a few mistakes led to incomplete passes on deeper passes from Marshall.
Marshall wasn’t with the team back in the spring, so his knowledge of the playbook, chemistry with his receivers and experience with the Tigers is all limited. Considering the situation he’s in, there shouldn’t be any cause for concern in Auburn … yet.
The Tigers need to begin loosening the reigns, though. Southeastern Conference play starts in two weeks against Mississippi State. This weekend Marshall will face Arkansas State, arguably the best team in the Sun Belt and … the team Malzahn led to a conference title last season.
The schedule doesn’t ease up from here on out. We’ll see if Marshall is up to the task of serving as an SEC quarterback soon.