Nick Marshall Nearing Auburn QB Career Rushing Record


Nov 16, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback

Nick Marshall

(14) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half against at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

He’s only been at Auburn one full season, but Tigers’ quarterback Nick Marshall has a great shot to reach a career record that has stood since 1976.

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Phil Gargis was the starting quarterback for the Auburn Tigers from 1974-1976. He was the last quarterback to play for Shug Jordan and the first to suit up for Doug Barfield.

As a sophomore, Gargis led the Tigers to a 10-2 record, a win over Texas in the Gator Bowl, and a No. 8 ranking in the final AP Poll. Unfortunately for Gargis and his teammates, Auburn would win only three games in each of the next two seasons (though they would be credited with an additional win in each year by the NCAA due to infractions).

Wearing No. 11, Gargis ran Jordan’s veer offense in 1974 and 1975, and accumulated 687 and 658 rushing yards in those seasons, respectively. Both years, he had more rushing yards than passing yards.

When Barfield became the new head coach in 1976, he had Gargis put the ball in the air more often. Gargis completed a career-high 80 of 166 passes for 1,116 yards and seven touchdowns in 1976, which more than doubled his passing output from the previous two seasons. He added 534 more yards on the ground and also scored nine times with his feet to set a new career high.

Gargis played in eleven official games each season (bowl game statistics did not count). Over the course of his career, he threw for a grand total of 2,034 yards with 14 touchdowns and was intercepted 29 times. He was nimble at 6-foot, 188 pounds, and when he left campus, Phil Gargis had recorded an Auburn record of 1,879 career rushing yards by a quarterback which has been alone atop the record book since.

Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) scores on a 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of the 2014 BCS National Championship game against the Florida State Seminoles at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Much has changed since Gargis lined up under center as Auburn’s quarterback, and the most noticeable is the offensive philosophy of the Tigers’ coaching staff. Yes, teams play more games in a season, and conference championship games and bowls now count towards career statistics, but none of those will really impact whether or not Nick Marshall will soon be Auburn’s all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback.

While head coach Gus Malzahn does run some plays with ties back to Jordan’s veer, it is his pace of play that has put Gargis’ career quarterback rushing record under fire. Under Malzahn’s direction, Cam Newton put the mark in jeopardy in his only year on campus in 2010.

In his Heisman Trophy winning season, Newton amassed a staggering 1,473 yards on the ground – which stands as the most in a single-season by an Auburn quarterback, and second most in a career behind Gargis. He would surely have set the career mark, but instead decided to move on to the NFL.

When Malzahn returned to Auburn in 2013, this time as the head coach after spending 2012 as the head man at Arkansas State, he had a new quarterback rushing threat.

After initially signing with Georgia as a QB, but playing for the Bulldogs as a defensive back, Nick Marshall found his way to Garden City Community College and back to the quarterback position. In 11 games in junior college, Marshall amassed 3,142 passing yards and 1,095 yards on the ground. He then signed with the Tigers.

In 2013, Nick Marshall put together a tremendous season that included an SEC Championship and a trip to the BCS National Championship Game. Marshall was a weapon running the football and finished with 1,068 rushing yards on only 172 carries – an impressive average of 6.21 per rush.

By contrast, Newton needed 364 carries in 2010 to reach his rushing total, and gained 5.58 yards on average. Gargis ran the ball 456 times over a three-year career at 4.18 yards per carry and Jimmy Sidle, who ranks third on the all-time rushing yards list by an Auburn quarterback, ran 326 times for 1,400 yards (4.29 per carry) from 1962-64.

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  • Marshall has added 122 rushing yards on 19 attempts through two games this season. Now, with 1,190 career rushing yards, he needs only 689 more to set the all-time career mark. Should Marshall break the Auburn single-game quarterback rushing record Thursday night against Kansas State with more than 222 yards (set by Travis Tidwell in 1946), he would move into at least third place on the schools’ list.

    However, through 15 career games, Marshall is averaging 79.33 per contest and that seems to be a reasonable total against K-State. At that rate, he would break the record in the second half against Georgia in Athens on November 15, 2014. Wouldn’t that be something? A former Georgia Bulldog defensive back setting an Auburn career quarterback rushing record “between the hedges.”

    It’s been a nice 38-year run for Phil Gargis, but his record should fall soon. Whether he does it in Athens or Auburn or somewhere else, Nick Marshall should become Auburn’s career quarterback rushing leader this season.