Updates from Saturday, Aug. 30
Alex Byington of Opelika-Auburn News provides a statement from Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn discussing Nick Marshall's potential return:
Auburn HC Gus Malzahn says there's no timetable for when QB Nick Marshall plays today: "We'll feel comfortable bringing him in at any time."— Alex Byington (@AUBlog) August 30, 2014
When Auburn takes the field to start its 2014 season, quarterback Nick Marshall will be on the bench. Head coach Gus Malzahn announced the news on Friday, per Joel Erickson of AL.com:
Auburn starting quarterback Nick Marshall will not start against Arkansas, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn announced after the first practice of training camp on Friday, although the senior will play in Auburn's season-opener. ...
Malzahn made it clear that Marshall, who led the Tigers to an SEC title and the national championship game last season, hasn't lost his role as Auburn's starting quarterback.
"Nick is still our quarterback," Malzahn said.
Sophomore Jeremy Johnson will get the nod, becoming the eighth different QB to start an Auburn opener in as many years, as noted by Brandon Marcello of the AL.com:
With QB Nick Marshall not starting vs. Arkansas, Jeremy Johnson will become Auburn's 8th different opening-day starter in 8 years.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) August 1, 2014
Matt Brown of Sports on Earth drew a parallel between Marshall's suspension and the half-game that then-Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was forced to miss last year:
So... the Manziel treatment RT @JoelAEricksonAU: NIck Marshall and Jonathon Mincy will not start Game 1.— Matt Brown (@MattBrownSoE) August 1, 2014
CBSSports.com's Tom Fornelli speculated Marshall won't be benched for long:
Considering that it was a relatively minor offense, and that Marshall has already paid the fine, I can't imagine he'll be held out of the game for too long. Were Auburn playing San Jose State to open the season instead of a conference opponent in Arkansas, it's possible he would be held out for the entire game.
This comes a few weeks after Marshall was cited for marijuana possession. The senior QB wasn't arrested since the amount of marijuana he possessed was less than an ounce. The case was closed when Marshall's mother, Shalina Cliett, paid the $1,100 fine—$1,000 for possession, $100 for illegal window tinting—stemming from the charges.
"Nick made a mistake and he'll have to deal with the consequences," Malzahn said during the SEC's media days, per USA Today's Paul Myerberg. "I'm not ready to say what those consequences are at this time, but he will deal with it."
Arkansas projects to be one of the worst teams in the SEC, and Malzahn admitted that Johnson will be taking more snaps this year independent of Marshall's punishment, per Ryan Black of the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Georgia:
Malzahn said Marshall not starting does not change the reps for Jeremy Johnson. "He was going to have a bigger role this year, anyway."— WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) August 1, 2014
Marshall's absence does open the door ever so slightly for the Razorbacks to pull off the upset. He's as important to Auburn's success as any other player.
If he's only out for a few plays, though, his punishment will have little effect on the outcome. The Tigers are the far superior team and have won their last eight home openers.