Marshall Winning Praise From His Teammates

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has impressed his teammates and coaches with his early spring performance.

Auburn, Ala.--Completing 59.4 percent of his passes for 1,976 yards and 14 touchdowns with just six interceptions, Nick Marshall had a very successful debut season as Auburn's starting quarterback. When you throw in another 1,068 rushing yards and 12 scores on the ground, you have a huge year for a player who only had a few weeks to learn the offense and find his footing at the position before making his first start.

Now with a full season under his belt and focusing on improving his game during the offseason, Marshall has come back a different player, according to his coaches and teammates. Making more consistent throws down the field as well as making more assertive decisions in the running game, things are promising for an offense that was already one of the best in the country in 2013.

One of the players who has been particularly impressed is junior wide receiver Sammie Coates. Auburn's leading receiver last season with 42 receptions for 902 yards and seven touchdowns, the Leroy native said people have only seen a small sample of what Marshall is capable of and he's excited for what the future holds.

"Nick is throwing the ball real good this spring," Coates said. "It's good that he's getting to go through spring after he didn't get to last year. He's making better reads. He's doing a great job and it's going to be a shock to the world what he's going to do when he gets it all together."

Senior Quan Bray is seeing the same thing. A player who has been part of three different offenses the last three seasons, Bray said he's really seeing a difference this spring because of having a returning starter at quarterback. Because of Marshall's relative inexperience at the position, he has been able to make an even bigger jump that most, something Bray said means big things for him and the offense.

"I'm seeing an NFL-caliber quarterback right now already, just in the spring," Bray said. "He's making throws he wasn't making last year right now. He's just leading us and being that guy we can lean on and he can lean on us. When he makes a bad throw we just have to catch it."

Nick Marshall transferred to Auburn last summer from Garden City Community College in Kansas.

It's not just in the passing game where Marshall can make a big jump in his play. Even though his rushing totals were impressive, his game wasn't without fault in that department. Having problems in ball control was obvious, but he was also still learning his role in the offense and that meant making the wrong read at times. Now that Marshall is more confident in what he's doing, running back Corey Grant said Marshall is better than ever in the running game.

"I think it should be the same," Grant said of using the zone-read. "Nick is actually gotten a lot better than he was at this point last year. That's natural, but he's a lot better because he's not learning now, he's just making reads and I think (the zone read) is going to be even better than last year."

With his passing and running both improved, all that is left for Marshall is to show that he can take on the leadership role necessary to take the offense to another level. That's something that offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Rhett Lashlee said he has already seen from his pupil early in spring practice and that comes from the confidence in his ability and the offense as a whole.

"When things are good, when things are bad, whether he needs to encourage other people, whether he needs to get on them and motivate them, I think he's already starting to show signs of that," Lashlee said. "I would hope that that would continue to improve because now, he should have confidence in what he's doing. He's not just worried about himself, he's worried about the whole unit."

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