FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. There was uncertainty whether Nick Marshall would play all week.
Every time he was asked about his starting quarterback's status, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn would only say it was "day-to-day."
Saturday night, Marshall showed there was no reason for concern, as he helped the Tigers to their fifth consecutive victory. No, he didn't reach 100 yards rushing. He didn't even break the 200-yard barrier in the passing game, either.
But he didn't have to do any of those things for Auburn to win Saturday, and Malzahn was fine with that.
"Nick is one tough customer," he said. "We didn't know, really, he was going to play. We felt like he had chance on Thursday, but we really didn't know for sure he was going to start until we got here, saw him throw in the pregame and all that. ... I think his toughness carried over to our team, especially offensively."
Following the win, the Georgia native echoed his coach's thoughts, admitting he wasn't sure whether he would get the starting nod.
"It kind of crossed my mind, but Coach just wanted to see how I would come out and throw Thursday," he said, "and I was throwing good."
Marshall finished with 177 total yards (118 passing, 59 rushing), with a large chunk of his portion through the air coming on a single play. The junior signal-caller hit sophomore receiver Sammie Coates down the right sideline for an 88-yard scoring strike. Malzahn noticed the Razorbacks were in press coverage, Marshall said, so they wanted to give Coates a chance to beat his defender in the one-on-one matchup. Marshall had no hesitation upon releasing the ball, confident Coates can "run by anybody in this league.
And he didn't disappoint his quarterback.
"You've really just got to throw those, because he's so fast (you) just hope he runs under it," Marshall said. "That's what we've been doing and we just went from there."
While he didn't put up eye-opening numbers in terms of touchdowns or yardage, Marshall was coldly efficient, completing 87.5 percent of his attempts (7-for-8). His lone miscue may have also doubled as his biggest play. With Arkansas having seized the momentum after pulling with 28-17 in the fourth quarter, Marshall fumbled the ball away on the ensuing drive after a 28-yard gain.
He was able to recover it, though, averting what would have been the Tigers' only turnover of the contest.
"I knew I had to get the ball back, but that just comes from not wrapping the ball up tight and he kind of punched it out," Marshall said. "But I gave it my best to go down and get the ball, so I was able to come up with it."