Scarier than last year? That’s a troublesome thought for opponents.
Auburn’s spring game was an offensive freak show, led by quarterback Nick Marshall, receivers Sammie Coates and D’haquille ‘Duke’ Williams and running backs Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne.
The offense was as sharp as ever Saturday in front of the 70,624 fans. Gus Malzahn’s offense reminded us how explosive and dynamic it can be, along with how fun and entertaining it can be to watch it shred defenses.
Marshall finished 13 of 22 (59.1 percent) for 236 yards and four touchdowns. Yes, he was going against the second-team defense, and, yes, his passing game has improved. He was sharp and crisp on short to intermediate throws, something he struggled with last year. Marshall has a huge arm, and we know the damage he can make when he turns the corner, too. What’s the limit for this offense? Marshall told reporters after Saturday’s game he knows how dangerous the Tigers could be in year two under Malzahn.
“As y’all can see, we can be real scary,” Marshall said. “We know we can run the ball. We’re just focusing on throwing the ball down the field.”
Although Marshall won the game’s MVP, the most intriguing emerging prospect was JUCO transfer Duke Williams, who impressed the coaching staff throughout spring practice. On Saturday, he showed us why. Williams displayed uncanny body control on a fade route from Marshall in the corner, and he caught the ball well throughout the game. Another big and physical specimen Williams certainly is, and he’ll be quite the red zone weapon in Malzahn’s back pocket.
Running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant reminded how well they complemented one another last year, certainly before Tre Mason proved he couldn’t be stopped. CAP is a between-the-tackles bruiser, while Grant looks like he’s shot out of a cannon every time he touches it.
It’s easy to fall in love with Auburn because of the offense, and any improvement on defense will help make Auburn a national championship contender in back-to-back years.
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