Auburn notes: Nick Marshall 'was available in emergency role' during Western Carolina game, practiced Sunday

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 13, 2013 

AUBURN, Ala. — Nick Marshall could have played Saturday.

Auburn, of course, didn't end up needing its starting quarterback, as it dominated hapless Western Carolina 62-3. But offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Marshall was on standby just in case.

"We dressed him (and) he was available in an emergency role," said Lashlee, who put Marshall's health on Saturday at 80 percent. "But it was just one of those deals that, if you can give him that extra week, it was good."

Marshall was back at practice Sunday, showing no signs of anything amiss.

"He practiced tonight full speed and he looked good. I wouldn't have known there was anything wrong with him," Lashlee said. "Of course we were just in helmets, but I think he'll be ready to rock and roll Tuesday. We look forward to having him back."

Jeremy Johnson filled in more-than-suitably with Marshall sidelined by a right knee injury. The true freshman signal-caller threw for 201 yards and four touchdowns while completing 81 percent (17-for-21) of his passes in his first career start. Lashlee said he was proud of Johnson's performance, highlighting the fact the Montgomery, Ala., native hadn't played in a live game in nearly a year.

To go out and play as well as he did impressed Lashlee immensely.

"He didn't seem to anxious or nervous before the game," he said. "I'm sure he had the normal butterflies anybody had for their first start. He was calm and I thought the guys rallied around him and really helped him, showed a lot of confidence in him."

Following the game, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn immediately shot down any potential quarterback controversy. What he didn't dismiss, however, was Johnson continuing to play as the season progresses.

Lashlee echoed that view Sunday night.

"I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him having some roles moving forward," he said. "It wasn’t just for one game. He’s got to be ready as the backup and he’s also got to be ready, maybe, in other unique roles and situations."

The coaching staff hasn't reached the point of designing any special packages for Johnson to get him in the game. Lashlee said that would probably be something that changes week-to-week. But it's not as if Johnson or Marshall is light-years ahead of the other in any category, Lashlee said.

He had no reservations about either running the entirety of the Tigers' playbook.

"I feel like Nick is, obviously, a very strong runner," Lashlee said. "He has a strong arm. He’s getting more and more accurate each week. And Jeremy can run, too. That was just his first game. (So) I don’t feel like we would have to change our offense either way with either guy in there."

Injury updates

C.J. Uzomah was held out of Saturday's game with a leg injury.

Much like Marshall, though, Lashlee said the junior tight end could have played if the game merited his services.

"He dressed out and was available, but it was a deal if we could keep him (out) maybe another couple of days to get rested (we would)," Lashlee said. "We need him full-strength the rest of the way."

Uzomah, who practiced Sunday, should "be ready to go" for this Saturday's game against No. 7 Texas A&M, Lashlee said.

Defensively, both tackle Montravius Adams and cornerback Jonathan Jones sat out the victory. Ellis Johnson said the team took "a cautious approach" with Adams, who suffered a knee injury versus Ole Miss.

The defensive coordinator had no update on Jones' status.

"He was not dressed out," Johnson said. "He was not ready to go. I don't know what his evaluation is. We'll probably learn a lot more about that (Monday)."

Quick hits

Chris Davis announced Sunday night that he would be back returning punts for the foreseeable future. "I'm going to be returning Saturday," the senior cornerback said. Davis sprained his ankle during the Arkansas State game, which forced him to miss Auburn's next two games, against Mississippi State and LSU, respectively. In his absence, receiver Quan Bray has fielded the punts, but struggled, averaging 5.8 yards per return on 11 attempts.

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