The Dye-Gest: A QB Who Can Run

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the decision to name Nick Marshall as AU's starting QB.

The quarterback situation for the Auburn team worked out about like I thought it would. There is a lot of upside in having such a talented athlete as Nick Marshall touching the ball every play. It is also a plus that he has played two seasons of college football, even though one was as a defensive back and the other in junior college.

The fact that Marshall is going into his third season since he finished playing as a high school quarterback makes a world of difference. The fact that he played a season of Southeastern Conference ball at Georgia, even though it was as a defensive back, means he understands the speed of the game at the SEC level.

I predict that with his athletic ability Marshall will be among the best running quarterbacks in college football this season. I am not exactly sure just how fast he is, but he is fast and like Johnny Manziel he will be a threat to make big plays on called running plays or when he needs to tuck the ball and run when he can't find an open receiver.

Marshall has the potential to put a tremendous amount of pressure on defenses if he is just an adequate throwing the football because of his quick feet. With the Auburn offense spreading out the defense that should give the quarterback the operating room he needs to make big plays.

If the quarterback is as effective running the ball as I think he will be that should also help the tailbacks because opponents can't concentrate as much on stopping the inside running game due to the threat of Marshall going outside with the football and running 60 yards for a touchdown.

The Tigers had a good, healthy preseason quarterback competition with everybody getting a chance to be number one on the depth chart. If something happens injury-wise to Marshall the team has Jonathan Wallace ready to step in if needed. In that case, as well as Jeremy Johnson played in preseason, it wouldn't surprise me if the coaches work overtime on getting the big freshman ready to play because he obviously has great upside.

The season is almost here now and I am excited. I feel like the Tigers have a chance to have a good offensive team and I am looking forward to seeing them kick it off vs. Washington State.

Letters to Coach Dye:

Hey Coach,
With the possibility of Jeremy Johnson being the quarterback this year, many of us are a little nervous. I know he's extremely talented and has a good head on his shoulders. Still, the words true freshman quarterback in the SEC scare me a little. How many true freshmen did you start at QB? And how did they fair? I believe Stan White was one.
War Eagle,

Heath Cowen
Montgomery, AL

Heath, we had Stan White start for us as a redshirt freshman, but there was still a learning curve for him that season. He did some great things, but he also did some things that he didn't do as a senior. It would be hard to beat LSU, Georgia or Alabama with a freshman quarterback. They would do something to confuse him and that is why we didn't start a true freshman at the position.

With junior Nick Marshall being named the starter and having college experience, I think that will be a plus for the offense. At quarterback you need to have a guy who looks forward to the big games and is not afraid of them. I think there is a good chance that Marshall will be that type of guy. I also believe that Jeremy Johnson has a bright future as a college quarterback and I am looking forward to seeing him on the field when his time comes to play.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

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