Monday, November 11, 2013
Player of the week: SEC
By Alex Scarborough
The Gus Bus is humming along at Auburn.
A 55-23 win at Tennessee on Saturday has Gus Malzahn looking like a genius, as Nick Marshall, the man he's put behind the wheel has made all the right turns on offense.
Marshall said he was simply "going with the flow" when he carved up the Vols defense, rushing for 214 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. Tennessee's defenders couldn't figure him out, and when they had their hands on him, they couldn't bring him down.
"They were giving us a lot of choices," Marshall told reporters, "but they can't really stop the run. So we kept our foot on their throat and ran it down their throat."
It was clear watching Auburn dismantle Tennessee: Malzahn might be the best play-caller in the SEC, and he might have found the perfect quarterback to execute his plays in Marshall.
"He's a great athlete," Malzahn said of Marshall. "He's starting to understand the offense, he's making the right decisions and when he gets the ball out in space, he can really do some things."
Auburn doesn't throw the ball much, averaging 11.3 attempts in its past three games, but it doesn't have to. Passing has become optional with Marshall orchestrating the offense.
Running the read-option, Marshall helped Auburn to a total of 444 yards on the ground at Neyland Stadium, increasing its lead as the league's top rushing attack. Tre Mason benefited to the tune of 117 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall, meanwhile, finished eight yards shy of a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback. His 214 yards were the most of any player in the SEC this season and tied for third in Auburn's history behind Cam Newton's 217-yard performance against LSU in 2010.
There was no doubt that Marshall, who was named the SEC Player of the Week on offense, was at his best against Tennessee. Of the 30 best single-game rushing performances in the FBS this year, his 15.29 yards per rush against the Vols trailed only Army's Terry Baggett, who ran for 16.89 yards per rush against Eastern Michigan.
Now he just has to keep it up.
If the Gus Bus is going to reach a BCS bowl, Marshall will be the one driving it.
Next stop: Georgia.