AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — When Auburn coach Gus Malzahn subjected the quarterbacks to live tackling in the first preseason scrimmage, Nick Marshall flashed more than his athletic ability.
Malzahn also said he showed a calm demeanor under pressure. Both qualities helped the dual-threat junior college transfer earn the right to run the Tigers' hurry-up, no-huddle offense for the Aug. 31 opener against Washington State.
"We're always going to play to our quarterback's strengths, but he's very unique," Malzahn said. "There's no doubt, he's a phenomenal athlete. One of the better athletes I've probably gotten a chance to coach at the quarterback position. He's got a very strong arm, and he's very calm. The day that we went live, they were flying around him and I was right back there with him and he seemed like it was 7-on-7 mode."
Marshall won what began as a four-man battle that included former starters Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier and freshman Jeremy Johnson. Wallace is the No. 2 quarterback and Malzahn described Johnson as "2A."
Marshall was the last quarterback to arrive on campus this summer, but his ability outshined the other contenders on the plays he had mastered.
"It was a close battle, but the bottom line is when Nick knew what to do he outperformed the others," Malzahn said. "We really feel like he'll have a chance to improve and get better each practice and each game. He didn't have the luxury of going through spring, but what he knows, he knows he knows extremely well and has a lot of playmaking ability."
Marshall is almost certainly the most dangerous runner of the contenders after rushing for 1,000 yards and passing for 3,000 last season at Garden City Community College in Kansas. He spent his freshman season as a defensive back at Georgia but was dismissed from the team for violations in February 2012.
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