Just five weeks removed from Garden City Community College, Auburn Tigers starting quarterback Nick Marshall found himself staring at a huge challenge late in Saturday night’s Southeastern Conference opener.
How would he respond? That’s a question many found themselves asking, as the Tigers trailed the Mississippi State Bulldogs by three points with two and a half minutes remaining. The answer: Very well. Completing six of his final eight passes, none larger than the touchdown strike to C.J. Uzomah in the final 10 seconds which gave the Tigers a 24-20 lead they held onto tight.
Marshall’s first couple of games featured small steps in the right direction, but they also came against weaker opponents in Alcorn State and Washington State. By that, I mean they don’t play many top-notch, championship-caliber teams, so their chances of winning the crystal ball representing a National Championship is difficult to say the least.
Against the Bulldogs, or any other SEC opponent however, wins like the one Marshall engineered Saturday mean everything. They can make a statement, give players confidence heading into the following week’s contest and so much more. In the Tigers’ case, a win like this proved even bigger though, as they hadn’t notched one of those big conference victories since 2011.
For Marshall, this night proved to be a huge coming-out party. A former defensive back that’s still learning the quarterback position, not to mention Gus Malzahn‘s offense, he desperately needed one of these performances to fully establish himself as a threat going forward.
In what many view as a rebuilding season, the continued growth of Marshall will only make Auburn better than expected. It is a welcome sight after the disaster that was 2012.