Auburn Football: Tigers QB Situation Ranked 18th by


Oct 11, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) drops back to pass against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Auburn football team is very lucky to have two quality quarterbacks on the roster in Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson. The pair has been considered by some to be the best duo in the Southeastern Conference, if not the entire country. Of course, that belief is far from universal, and one analyst put his opinion in black and white.

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Mike Huguenin of ranked all 128 FBS quarterback situations at the halfway point of the regular season, based on “how a quarterback has produced in his offense this season.” The College Football 24/7 writer listed the Auburn Tigers 18th in the nation, which is down five spots from the preseason.

Huguenin gave the top spot on his updated list to Mississippi State on the strength of Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott, and also ranked conference rivals Ole Miss and Texas A&M ahead of the Tigers. It’s not outlandish, and it’s only one man’s opinion, but is still surprising to see Auburn listed behind teams such as Cal (8th), Western Kentucky (9th) and Washington State (11th) among others.

According to Huguenin:

"Main starter: Nick MarshallBuzz: Marshall, a senior, never is going to be anything close to an elite passer, but he is an elite athlete who fits nicely into coach Gus Malzahn’s spread-option scheme. Marshall has thrown 10 TD passes and also has rushed for 492 yards and four scores."

However, there is certainly room for growth in Marshall’s play. The senior has only completed 55.4% of his passes this season (72-for-130) for 964 yards, and has been intercepted three times. Marshall’s interception rate is a respectable 2.3%, but two of the three picks came in last week’s 38-23 loss to Mississippi State. While drops by wide receivers factor into his completion percentage, Marshall has failed to hit open receivers also at times. Plus, Marshall’s passes have been increasingly tipped and batted down at the line of scrimmage, leading to incompletions and worse.

Johnson has completed 22 of 28 pass attempts (78.6%) this season for 391 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

Marshall, Johnson and the rest of the Tigers will be off this Saturday, but will return to action October 25 at home against South Carolina. According to head coach Gus Malzahn, the passing game has been a point of emphasis during bye week practices.

“I think at times we’ve really been clicking. Of course, at other times, you can tell we’ve been a little bit off. It’s just a matter of being more consistent,” Malzahn said Wednesday. “I know this week has been really good for us. We really went back to just the basics of our base pass scheme, the timing of everything, different looks. You can really slow down and you’re not trying to scheme up an opponent or predict how they’re going to play you. You can just kind of worry about the timing of your base passing game. I know that’s really helped us the last two days and we’re really hoping that will pay off on the consistency part in the second half.”

Expect Marshall to find his groove in the second half of the season, and don’t be surprised to see Auburn climb up Huguenin’s list in the second half of the season.

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