By Darrell Puckett
After the most memorable Auburn football season recorded, there’s one question that lingers. Does Nick Marshall deserve to start next season under Coach Gus Malzahn? A lot of naysayers say that Marshall will be trumped by sophomore quarterback Jeremy Johnson without question this spring. Not only do I think Marshall will start, but his ability to be multi-dimensional should shock many haters.
Marshall completed 142 passes out of 239, threw for 1,976 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. His passer rating totaled 143.2 and total quarterback rating was 71.0. Understanding that his role wasn’t necessarily to pass every down is key. Marshall totaled 12 rushing touchdowns, while hauling in 1,068 yards on the ground. The multi-threat that he brought to this team is remarkable and a constant fear for opposing defenses.
A few reasons why Marshall will undergo significant improvements deal with the upgrading of positions. Yes, Auburn lost Tre Mason who was spectacular all season long, but that’s not a huge deal. I understand that beloved fans think Mason is a top three back in AU history, but Coach Malzahn has big surprises in store.
The biggest upgraded position is AU’s receiving group coming in. Duke Williams stood out to be Rivals only 5-star JUCO recruit, and is talked about as the next Calvin Johnson. Of course, the Tigers bring back Sammie Coates who dominated with deep receptions all season. Coates physicality was clearly seen by his performance against Texas A&M. Also, sophomore Marcus Davis stepped up and show cased his skills through the seams against defenses.
With more options on the WR end, why wouldn’t Marshall flourish this ’14 season? People want to see Mr. Football of Alabama, Jeremy Johnson for obvious reasons. Johnson’s build resembles Cam Newton’s. That’s without question. Tiger fans are also ecstatic of Rivals ’13 QB signee Shaun White, which brings the question of when is he going to play? There’s no right answer about Johnson and Whites future, other than they’re very talented players with loads of capability.
My view on this matter is that Marshall starts and shines during his senior campaign, while Johnson and White both mature. Auburn hasn’t had this much talent at quarterback before, and the future looks brighter than ever. Look for the Tigers to have a very productive and interesting spring.
[Photo Credit: ESPN]