Depth Chart: Auburn Quarterback


Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There is no question as to who will be the top quarterback on the depth chart for the Auburn Tigers this season. However, it is yet to be determined if Nick Marshall will take the season’s first snap.

In 2013, Marshall established himself behind center for the nation’s top rushing offense, and he was a big part of that production.

Marshall finished second on the team with 1,068 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. He added 1,976 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and only six interceptions as the Tigers went on to amass an average of more than 500 total yards per game.

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Interestingly enough however, much like the Auburn offense as a whole, it took time for Marshall to settle into his role. Marshall won the job in fall camp, just weeks after first arriving on campus from Garden City Community College. Therefore, a slow start is understandable.

Early in the year, the young quarterback struggled. Marshall was only 10-for 19 with 99 yards in the season opener against Washington State. He ran just nine times for 27 yards, and had a QB rating of just 96.4, his worst of the season (which he later tied against LSU).

Marshall was slightly better the following week against Arkansas State. He completed ten of his 17 passes for 147 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season, and ran for 53 yards. But, the Tigers cruised 38-9, and Marshall wasn’t asked to do too much.

In week three in Starkville, Marshall was asked to do a lot. He threw for a career high 339 yards (more than 100 more than he would in any game the rest of the season,) on a career high 34 attempts. Marshall tossed two touchdown scores, but also threw two interceptions. But, it was after a 35-21 loss to LSU where Marshall and Auburn found themselves at a crossroads.

“Last season,” Gus Malzahn told Charles Goldberg of during the off-season, “it was probably during our off-week before the fifth game against Ole Miss that we kind of changed gears. That’s probably what we really honed in on what we thought Nick’s strengths were. We put him in some tough situations against LSU. He wasn’t ready for a couple of those things. We didn’t have him prepared, and he didn’t have the experience. So we took a deep breath, we had the week off, and we developed a plan for the rest of the season.”

At that point, the Tigers were 3-1 and unranked. Auburn was averaging 28.5 points per game, and had a former Georgia defensive back throwing 33.5 passes per game in two starts against SEC competition.

Marshall had 809 passing yards through the season’s first four games, an average of 202.3 per contest. Once the coaching staff “changed gears” prior to the Ole Miss game, Marshall emerged as a star.

Over his next nine games, Marshall completed 82 of 136 passes (60.3%), for 1,167 yards, ten touchdowns and only two interceptions. As a team, Auburn averaged 43.5 points per game, including a staggering 41 points against SEC opponents.

Marshall did the vast majority of his damage against quality completion, as the quarterback missed the entire Western Carolina game and more than three quarters against Florida Atlantic.

Heading into 2014, Marshall is the quarterback and the #AuburnFast HUNH is in full force.

Heading into 2014, Marshall is the quarterback and the #AuburnFast HUNH is in full force. The senior is the league’s leading returner in passing efficiency, and reports this spring indicate has shown improvement as a quarterback. That is good news, especially since Malzahn has indicated he wants the Auburn Tigers to be more balanced on offense this season.

Plus, Marshall will have the opportunity to be the first quarterback to operate two consecutive seasons in Gus Malzahn’s offense. No wonder expectations are high on the Plains.

Of course, there is that matter of Marshall’s citation for marijuana possession. The fine has been paid, according to, which means the case is now closed as far as the legal system is concerned. The only issue now is whether or not Marshall will receive some sort of suspension related to the incident.

If Marshall does miss time, the Tigers are still in good hands.

This spring, sophomore backup Jeremy Johnson saw some time with the first team offense. He also saw the field in 2013. As a freshman, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound prototype completed 70.7% of his 41 passing attempts for 422 yards and six touchdowns.

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Johnson first game action came as the starting quarterback against Western Carolina. He did not disappoint. Filling in for Marshall, who had injured his knee the previous week against Ole Miss, Johnson completed 17 of 21 passes for 201 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. After Marshall injured his shoulder in the first quarter against Florida Atlantic, Johnson was 10-for-16 with 192 passing yards, two touchdowns and a pick.

Johnson is obviously talented, and will have a role within the Auburn offensive attack this season. Also, Jonathan Wallace is not to be forgotten.

“But you look at Jonathan Wallace, too,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee told Phillip Marshall this spring. “You can’t tell me there is anybody in our league or maybe even in the country that has a better situation than we do at No. 2 and No. 3. What his teammates think of Jonathan Wallace says a lot about him. He’s unbelievable. He’s all you could ever ask for. He’s the perfect teammate. He’s the perfect player to coach.”

Wallace saw the bulk of his playing time as a freshman in 2012. The junior started Auburn’s final four games that year, and set a school record for passing efficiency by a freshman. He finished the 2012 season with 720 passing yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

In 2013, Wallace was Marshall’s primary backup until the Western Carolina game, when it was decided the team would burn Johnson’s redshirt. Wallace completed two of only four passes all season for 24 yards. He will be third on the depth chart, followed by sophomore walk-on Tucker Tuberville and junior Ben Durand.