Tigers Ready To Throw When The Time Comes

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn talks about the work on the passing game as the No. 7 Tigers prepare to face the 25th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Completing 93-159 passes this season for 1,301 yards and eight touchdowns with five interceptions while adding an additional 734 yards and seven scores on the ground, Auburn junior quarterback Nick Marshall has had a very good season to this point considering he missed a stat-padding opportunity against Western Carolina because of an injury.

Sitting out the full game because of a sore knee, Marshall bruised his throwing shoulder in a win over Florida Atlantic two weeks later. Since then the Tigers have been rolling on offense, but almost exclusively on the ground, in wins over Arkansas and Tennessee. Throwing just 16 combined passes the last two weeks, Auburn has pounded both opponents into submission, but Coach Gus Malzahn knows that will likely have to change this week.

"When you first start out a game it's a feeling-out process about how they are playing you and what you are successful with," Malzahn said. "After a couple of series you get a feel and if you're having success then just keep doing what you're doing. That has been some of it the last few weeks.

"Obviously we will need to throw the football before it's all said and done. We know that. we have worked extremely hard in practice all but the one week that Nick hurt his shoulder. He wasn't able to throw that week and we were a little bit more cautious there. He's getting a lot healthier and I really believe when the time comes he will be effective throwing the football."

Basically able to just line up and run the football each of the last two SEC wins, Auburn has been able to keep much of its offense in the holster as the Tigers prepare for rivals Georgia and Alabama in the final two games of the season. While his offense hasn't needed to throw it in recent weeks, Malzahn said when the time comes he thinks they'll be ready.

"I would hope so from the standpoint of you do practice certain things," Malzahn said. "A lot of times from an offensive standpoint if they take away one thing you've got to have an answer. We're constantly working on the what if's, but as of late we haven't had to utilize a whole lot of it."

There is a good chance Auburn's offense will have to reach deeper into the playbook this week against a Georgia defense allowing just 126 yards rushing on the ground this season. Holding LSU to 77 yards rushing earlier in the year and allowing just one team (South Carolina with 226) to run for more than 200 yards in a game, the Bulldogs will present a much tougher challenge for the Auburn running game this week.

While he knows Auburn's plan is to run it, Georgia Coach Mark Richt said that you have to be prepared for everything in a game and that's what the Bulldogs are expecting from the Tigers.

"They don't have to throw the ball," Richt said. "I think they can throw the ball and I think they can throw it well. We believe that. We're preparing for that. We're preparing for the play-action pass and for them taking shots and those types of things that good running teams will do to you.

"We've got to be ready for that. I think they'll go into this game like a lot of other games, they'll have a plan to do both and if the team just cannot slow them down running the ball and they keep moving the chains and scoring points then I don't think they're going to mess around throwing it too much if they don't have to."

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