Preparing the QB A Focus At Sunday Session

The Auburn Tigers returned to the football practice field on Sunday evening where getting their new number one quarterback up to speed is a major priority now that it is game week for Coach Gus Malzahn's team.

Auburn, Ala.--A refreshed Auburn football team switched to game-week mode on Sunday with a full pads workout that focused on assignments for Saturday evening's 2013 season opener vs. visiting Washington State.

Auburn players noted there was good energy at the session that lasted an hour-and-a-half after the players had a 48-hour break from football over the weekend. In addition to the on the field workouts the players went over assignments with their position coaches.

One of the big questions about how the Tigers will do is centered around the new starting quarterback, Nick Marshall, who will go into the opener with just four full weeks of practice as an Auburn player.

"My expectations will be for him are to go out and be confident," said Rhett Lashlee, Auburn's quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. "We want him to be confident he knows what to do in what we are carrying (plays for game one). We want him to lead this football team and protect the football. That is all we want him to do. I think after that everything will take care of itself."

Lashlee said the No. 1 thing that he has told the junior college transfer is that "we can't beat ourselves."

The 6-1, 210-pound quarterback has sub 4.5 speed in the 40 and a very strong arm. "We are going to play to his strengths," Lashlee said. "He can throw vertical balls very well."

Lashlee noted he has told the quarterback, who is known as an elusive scrambler, to focus on executing the game plan. "Don't try to make things out of nothing," Lashlee said. "Trust your abilities and play within the system and the plays will come."

The offensive coordinator said the Tigers will add more to the game plans as the season progresses, but said that would be the case even with a veteran like the QB he worked with last year at Arkansas State, 2012 senior Ryan Aplin.

Jonathan Wallace, who finished the 2012 season as the No. 1 quarterback for the Tigers, goes into the opener as the top backup. The sophomore said that Marshall is getting most of the reps at quarterback as the opening game draws near.

"Of course, Coach really wants to get Nick prepared for the first game," Wallace said. "Of course, Nick is getting most of the reps and that is needed.

"Every opportunity I?get for a rep I try to go at it 100 percent," Wallace said. "When I am not in there I am trying to take a mental rep of everything. I am trying to stay prepared for anything."

Commenting on Marshall, who played for Garden City Community College last year, Wallace said, "Nick is looking pretty good. Nick has really made some good strides and everybody is behind him."

Wallace said when Marshall was named the starter that "he understood" and took the attitude "that I?have to be a team player and a great teammate for this team."

Wallace began the season as a third stringer in 2012, but finished it as the starter despite being a true freshman.

Commenting on how Wallace has handled not winning the starter QB job, Lashlee said, "Jonathan has been great. He comes to work every day. If we hadn't made a decision, you probably wouldn't know anything was different other than maybe the reps have changed for him.

" I have got all the confidence in the world in Jonathan that if he's put in there, he is going to know what to do, he is going to be prepared and he is going to do a good job."

In other news and notes:

*With Dee Ford out with a knee injury, fellow senior Craig Sanders is expected to make his first college start at right defensive end. A pair of true freshmen, Elijah Daniel and Carl Lawson, are getting reps as the backup to Sanders. When Ford will return is uncertain.

Craig Sanders has been a standout on special teams and a backup at end the past three seasons.

Another senior, Kenneth Carter, is likely to open the season as the No. 1 on the other side. He made the move to the position from tackle in spring drills. LaDarius Owens, a junior who moved from linebacker to end this preseason, is getting work as a backup to Carter.

Senior Nosa Eguae, the most experienced defensive end on the roster, can play on either side.

*Now that the Tigers are into their game week routine they will practice on Sundays, take Mondays off, practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

*Coach Gus Malzahn is expected to name his opening night starters and top backups on Tuesday. However, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said after Sunday's practice that there are still battles for playing time going on defensively so who is where on the depth chart is subject to change prior to the 6 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

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