Nick Marshall has been named Auburn’s starting quarterback for the season opener against Washington State. The decision came Saturday, after head coach Gus Malzahn announced early this week that Marshall and true freshman Jeremy Johnson would get the bulk of the first-team reps during the week. Thus, eliminating sophomore Jonathan Wallace, who ended last season as the starter and his predecessor from 2012, Kiehl Frazier. Frazier, a former USA National Offensive Player of the year coming out of Shiloh Christian in Springdale, Ar., brought in his horrid sophomore season into this year’s fall camp. Frazier voluntarily moved to safety this week, in order to contribute earlier down the road in Auburn’s upcoming season.
Malzahn’s move is a good start in solving Auburn’s major woes offensively from 2012. Tigers finished dead last in the SEC in total offense, including a benchmark of No. 112 in the nation in both passing and scoring offense. Marshall brings vast amount of potential, with the ability to operate the offense in a crisp manner with Malzahn’s tremendously quick pace. The ability to throw on the run and his powerful arm strength were obvious deciding factors over the rest of the pack.
Some would attest that he’s as athletic as anyone in the SEC, namely those who saw Marshall up close last season at Garden City Community College in Kansas. Marshall threw for 3,142 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 1,095 yards that went for 19 scores. Marshall’s ex-offensive coordinator and current coach at Garden City, Matt Miller believes talent wise he’s as talented of a quarterback as Johnny Manziel. Hard to believe that two years ago, Marshall played cornerback and special teams in his lone season at Georgia. Marshall and two other freshmen were dismissed from the team in February 2012 for the theft of money from teammates.
Since approaching fall camp, Marshall seemed to be the logical choice, if he corrected some issues. The major woes when examining Marshall have been how turnover prone he is playing the quarterback position. Marshall had more interceptions than touchdowns at Garden City. This is a usual chapter for Auburn supporters after the previous two seasons in which their team’s gunslingers throw 28 interceptions. Last season, Frazier, in his nine game totals, went for two touchdowns passing, with eight interceptions. Fortunately, Marshall hasn’t been sloppy in the early-goings of 2013.
Even though, Marshall wasn’t highly recruited, most staffs believed that Marshall had all the fluid mechanics to start anywhere in the country as a junior. The 6-foot-2, 210 lbs. Marshall chose Auburn over offers from Kansas State and N.C. State. Marshall was recruited extremely hard by current Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and Malzahn at Arkansas State last season. Marshall was considered by both Scout and ESPN as a four-star dual threat quarterback.
Marshall will be Malzahn’s eighth straight different quarterback to start a season in his college coaching career, six as an offensive coordinator at Arkansas, Tulsa, and Auburn, the last two seasons as a head coach at Arkansas State and Auburn.
Most Auburn fans have talked until they were blue in the face about the possibilities of the 2008 Broyles award winner, Malzahn opening up the offense, the same way he did in 2010 with Cam Newton. It’s hard to imagine just that, but the offense should open up for Marshall’s abilities in the throwing game.
The same day that Malzahn dismissed leading returning tackler Demetruce McNeal from the team on a misdemeanor possession of marijuana, he made the best move possible in his short Auburn tenure.