Now 11 games into the season, the trust and belief that Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee showed in Marshall is paying off. Leading the team on a 10-win run, including an incredible win over the Georgia Bulldogs last Saturday, the junior has thrown for 1,530 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions this season. Adding 823 yards on the ground and nine scores, Marshall has been his best in the biggest of situations and that's something Lashlee said is the best possible thing for a quarterback.
"At this point I believe in him," Lashlee said. "I'm never going to count him out and I'm glad he's on my side. Like I said, there's just certain guys have knack for it. He probably couldn't even tell you what he does other than certain guys are just born with this ability to win and make plays and to elevate the play of others. They can play the great the whole game and do it or they can have a bad game, but when it matters, do it. Some guys just have that. So far, from what we've seen through 11 games, he's one of those guys that has that."
Another guy that had that was Cam Newton, someone that Lashlee was very familiar with from his time as a graduate assistant coach for the Tigers in 2009 and 2010. A player that took over a team and willed it to win time and time again in his only season on the Plains, Newton became the heart and soul of the BCS National Champions in his only year and Lashlee said you can see the same types of things in Marshall.
"Cam definitely had an incredible 'it' factor, just a will to will his team to victory that was incredible," Lashlee said. "I've never played with Michael Jordan, but I always remembered thinking this is what I would have thought Michael Jordan was like. He walks in there, everybody listens. When he says it's time to do this, they do it and when it's crunch time he's going to make the play every time.
"He's going to make the throw, make the catch, make the shot. That's kind of the analogy I always thought of with Cam, that he's the closest thing I've been to around that. I don't think it's fair to compare Nick in that point yet, but what he has done is win in some clutch moments that a lot of people don't. It'll be exciting the rest of the season and moving forward next year to see everywhere that goes."
Having already handled a huge moment for him in the win over his former coaches and teammates at Georgia, Marshall will face an even bigger stage on Nov. 30 in the Iron Bowl. Facing one of the nation's top defenses with a berth in the SEC Championship Game on the line, Auburn will need Marshall to be at his best to come out with the win. Having already seen his guy handle tough situations in tight games and on the road, Lashlee said he's ready to see what he can do.
"The guys believe in him," Lashlee said. "He's a winner. He has proven that. Whether he wins with the drive against Mississippi State or A&M, the other night, it's a variety of ways and some or normal and some aren't. The guy is calm, he really is. That's what we saw in fall camp when we named him the guy because he ran the two-minute drills really good. In the time we went live he was good, but you never know until you get in the moment. He believes in himself even if he's having a good game or bad game, it doesn't matter. When it becomes crunch time he believes in himself and the guys do too."
Even defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has seen the impact that Marshall has had on the program. Watching the team rally around a player it believes in has transferred even to the defense in 2013.
"He's been a huge factor," Johnson said. "Don't want to say any one person flipped this program, but I think if you look at what he's done, and where we were before him and after him, I think you have to honestly just say it's been unbelievable."