Auburn QB Nick Marshall Fueled by “One-Dimensional Offense” Label

By Scott Page
nick marshall
John Reed–USA TODAY Sports

People have come up with plenty of reasons why Auburn has no chance against top-ranked Florida State in the BCS title game. The Tigers’ defense isn’t good enough. The Seminoles are too talented and fast. FSU is more “SEC” than Auburn. And so the list goes on.

Then there’s this inflammatory claim: Auburn’s offense is one-dimensional because Nick Marshall is a poor passer. It’s something the junior, respected more for his ability as a runner, says fuels his competitive nature.

“It motivates me a lot,” Marshall said. “A lot of teams don’t think we can throw the ball.”

Try telling that to, say, Missouri’s or Mississippi State’s defensive backs.

Flashback to the first half of the SEC Championship Game. After a faked Statue of Liberty hand off to Corey Grant, Marshall went on the move to his left. As the pocket collapsed, Marshall stepped inside a Missouri defender, saw Sammie Coates crossing in the end zone and fired mid-stride with neither foot set firmly on the ground.

Marshall delivered a ball that traveled more than 45 yards with enough velocity and accuracy to hit a moving Coates between two Missouri defenders.

But he can’t throw for a lick?

Turn the clock back even further to Auburn’s opening SEC game against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were the only team to hold the Tigers below 200 yards rushing (120) in a game. Not that it mattered.

In Auburn’s most ineffective performance on the ground, Marshall put together his best performance through the air, completing 23-of-34 for 339 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 11-yard completion to C.J. Uzomah with 10 seconds left in the game.

In 11 starts this season, Marshall has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 1,759 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.

But he’s considered a poor passer?

At no time has that assertion been more erroneous than during Auburn’s nine-game winning streak. Marshall has only thrown one interception in those games, and down the late-season stretch run against five SEC opponents he completed 66.2 percent of his passes and averaged 8.9 yards per attempt.

But Marshall is criticized because pundits only look at Auburn’s passing yards and touchdowns, presuming that he’s not very good throwing the ball. But that’s an extremely short-sighted assessment. It’s not that the Tigers can’t throw, they just don’t throw often. And why should they? Auburn has the nation’s top rushing attack.

Only six FBS teams attempted fewer passes per game than Auburn, but Marshall has been effective when the Tigers do throw. Auburn ranks 18th nationally with 13.87 yards per completion. More importantly, he’s made huge throws when it counts most.

Now, as he heads down the long road to Jan. 6 and the showdown with Florida State in the BCS National Championship, Marshall is going to hear the same old song played over and over that his one-dimensional offense won’t be good enough to get the job done against the Seminoles’ stout defense.

That’s fine with Marshall and Auburn. After all, everyone said the same thing about the Tigers before they played (and beat) Georgia, Alabama and Missouri.

Scott Page is a college football writer for Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

You May Also Like