October 20, 2013

Unflappable leader

AUBURN | Nick Marshall had every reason to be nervous Saturday night, his team down by three points with five minutes remaining at Texas A&M.

The moment was big.

Still, he was bigger.

The Tigers' quarterback calmly orchestrated a touchdown drive that ultimately yielded the decisive margin. Marshall rushed twice for six yards. He only completely one of his three pass attempts during the defining drive, but that taxing throw to Marcus Davis to convert a third down would have failed with even a hint of reticence in the picture.

"He's just got a calmness about him," offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. "He knows how to win -- whether it's throwing for over 300 against Mississippi State or against Ole Miss and A&M doing more with his feet. He's not rattled."

Marshall was vitally efficient Saturday afternoon. Though he lost a fumble during the second quarter that seemed like a major gaffe at the time, the Aggies subsequent drive ended with an interception.

No harm, no foul.

The junior finished 11-of-23 passing for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed 20 times for 100 yards -- more than double Johnny Manziel's total -- and flummoxed Texas A&M defenders charged with undermining the Tigers' zone-read runs.

Despite entering the game with lingering pain from a knee injury suffered against Ole Miss, Marshall nonetheless scored a pair of rushing touchdowns on runs of 13 and 16 yards.

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