Auburn, Ala.--Back in action after a week off to heal an injured knee, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall was named SEC Football Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in a thrilling 45-41 victory at Texas A&M.
The first-year Tiger completed 11-23 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards and two more scores.
With the win at College Station the Tigers are 6-1 and they vaulted 13 spots higher in the AP Top 25 poll to 11th. At 3-1 in the SEC they are in the hunt to win the SEC West title and control their own destiny for an opportunity to earn a berth in the league title game if they can win their four remaining conference games.
Auburn’s second victory of the season against a ranked team is a momentum builder for the Tigers, Marshall says. “It builds a lot of confidence going into the next week’s game,” he says as the Tigers prepare for their final regular season non-conference game on Saturday night as Florida Atlantic visits Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Marshall, who hurt his knee in the fourth quarter vs. Ole Miss, was limited in practice prior to the Homecoming victory over Western Carolina, but says he is 100 percent now and will focus on his passing accuracy in this week’s preparations to play FAU.
“I am progressing every game,” the transfer from junior college says. “I am just going to keep getting better at practice and let it carry over to the game.”
For the season he is completing 57.3 percent of his passes and is averaging 189.7 passing yards per contest and 64.7 rushing yards.
With Marshall starting for the sixth time as an Auburn quarterback the Tigers racked up 615 yards of total offense vs. the Aggies at Kyle Field. The quarterback credited the offensive line for having an outstanding performance, noting the guys up front blocked their “tails off” vs. Texas A&M.
Rhett Lashlee, Auburn’s quarterback coach and offensive coordinator, says he likes the poise Marshall has shown in leading the offense to touchdowns when games are on the line in the fourth quarter. Against the Aggies the Tigers moved 75 yards on 13 plays to take the lead with 1:19 to play. On the drive the QB converted the first third down with a keeper run and the last one with a 27-yard pass to wide receiver Marcus Davis. Two plays later Tre Mason scored from five yards out.
“I think he has shown it (poise) now in a couple of games that were either tight or coming down to the last so-to-speak drive,” Lashlee says. “He has just got a calmness about him. He knows how to win and whether it is throwing for over 300 against Mississippi State, or against Ole Miss and A&M doing more with his feet, he is not rattled.
“When something bad happens, like he misses a few throws in a row--which happened in the second quarter and stalled us a couple of times--or we fumble, he has done a good job of having a short memory and going forward and getting on to the next drive,” Lashlee says.
“His teammates believe in him,” the coach adds. “I know he believes in them and that has been a positive for us.”
After his team fell to the Tigers, Texas A&M defensive end Julien Obioha said Marshall's play was a major reason why.
“We practiced for him because we knew what we were facing with Nick Marshall," Obioha said. "We knew he was a guy with sub 4.5 speed so we knew he’d be a great running threat but he could also pass the ball. He’s a great athlete and we couldn’t contain him. I have to tip my hat to him.
“Auburn uses their quarterback in a great way because they know how athletic he is," he added. "To play them you have to have good eye control and discipline. Auburn was able to run the ball effectively and they called great plays.”
Kickoff time for this week’s game is 6:30 p.m. CDT and it will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
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