Marshall Wins Praise for A-Day Performance

Nick Marshall was a busy quarterback at Auburn's A-Day spring football game.

Auburn, Ala.--With a strong running game a given for the Auburn offense, the Tigers focused this spring on improving the passing game under returning starter Nick Marshall.

In Saturday's A-Day game the senior quarterback put on a show for the 70,645 fans in attendance and a nationwide TV audience, throwing for 236 yards and four touchdowns on 13-of-22 passing.

Marshall's performance won the approval of Head Coach Gus Malzahn.

"I am happy with the way he threw the ball," Malzahn said. "I think he did a good job with his eyes and his progressions. He did not put the ball in jeopardy.

After a slow start, which Marshall and Malzahn attributed to a swirling wind, the game's offensive MVP connected with Quan Bray on a 59-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, the first of two touchdown passes between the two on the afternoon.

"Once we have something going good, we want to stick to it," Bray said of the offense's big-play capability. "As Nick came into the offense, he got better and better each week. As people can see, we have a lot of good players on our side."

Junior wide receiver Sammie Coates, who made a one-handed, highlight reel catch on a lofted 19-yard pass from Marshall, said he thinks the quarterback is playing great right now.

"He is throwing the ball down the field and he is reading it right," Coates said. "If he keeps moving in the right direction, we are going to get better behind him."

Marshall surveys the field from the pocket

Marshall said throwing the ball down field has been a major focus of the Tigers this spring.

"As you call can see, we can get real scary," Marshall said of the offense's potential. "We know we can run the ball. We're just focusing more on throwing the ball down the field. That's the emphasis for this year.

"Every time I made a pass, it just gave me more confidence in the offense. My receivers--they trust me and I trust them also. We're just going to keep getting better and better."

Heralded junior college transfer D'haquille "Duke" Williams made his Auburn debut on Saturday, making five catches for 88 yards and a toe-tapping touchdown in the corner of the end zone. Marshall noted Williams' play-making abilities, and said the newcomer played great and that he is an "awesome kid" to have on the team.

"With him just coming, It adds more weapons to our offense," Marshall said. "He's been doing great. We've just got to get him into the groove, the feel of our offense, and then he'll be okay.

"He'll be a big emphasis in the offense this year. He's the kind of guy you can just put anywhere, and he'll come down with the catch for you."

Marshall said he's continuing to develop his relationships with the wide receivers, even going to the indoor facility with them during their free time to work on routes.

"They're just brothers to me," Marshall said. "They'll tell you the same thing about me.

"Just trying to get a bond with your receivers. If you have a bond, it's just like a brotherhood. You don't miss a beat with anything — you just keep getting better every day."

Overall, Marshall said he thinks he's improved this spring as he's worked on his footwork, squaring his shoulders down the field and following through on his passes.

"I am a way better passer than last year," Marshall said. "I took note of all the little things and what the coaches told me and put it toward my progress. I just focus on putting the ball in a place where my receivers can catch it and make a play on the ball."

Even though spring practice is over, Marshall said there is still a lot of work to do and improvement to be made.

"We're going to be good," Marshall said. "We just have to keep getting better in the summer."

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