Struggling to find his rhythm after sitting out the first half of the opener against Arkansas and throwing very little in an easy win over San Jose State, Marshall was called upon in a big way Thursday night as Kansas State was determined to take away the running lanes for the Tigers. Putting six and seven guys in the box and shooting the safeties in obvious running situations, the Wildcats constantly put Auburn in second and third and long distances.
That is tough for any quarterback and was tough for the Tigers at times against the Top 25 opponent, but once again when the game was on the line Marshall delivered for his team through the air. Finishing 17-31 for 231 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, Marshall was the victim of several drops and batted passes that kept him from having a huge night on the road in a tough environment.
“I didn’t feel any pressure on me,” Marshall said. “We just work together as a team and came together to come out with the victory.”
The biggest of his throws came on Auburn’s final series. With the ball and a 20-14 lead with around two minutes left, the Tigers faced a third and nine from their own 37-yard line. Needing a first down to put the game on ice, Auburn turned to Marshall and he threw a strike to Duke Williams on a slant-and-go route for 39 yards, giving his team a big road win.
“My confidence level is real high right now,” Marshall said. “Last year I would have probably flushed out of the pocket, but this year I trust my linemen with everything in me, and I know they trust me, too. I just stayed in the pocket and delivered the ball, and he made the catch.”
When you look back at most championship teams there is always a game or two when you have to survive not playing your best. That was the case for Auburn on Thursday night. Despite struggles on the ground and punting the football, the Tigers found a way to win against a quality opponent, something Marshall said is huge moving forward the rest of the season.
“It says a lot about our team,” Marshall said. “When adversity hit, I was looking down the sidelines to see how everybody would respond. Everybody responded well and we came out and got the victory.
“It will prepare us a lot,” he added. “I’m glad we were able to have this away game in the Big 12 because we’ll have some in the SEC too. We’ll know how to respond from here on out.”