AUBURN, Ala. — C.J. Uzomah couldn't help himself.
When quarterback Nick Marshall had the opportunity to scoot out of bounds on a first quarter run last Saturday, he demurred. Instead, he decided to run through Florida Atlantic corner D'Joun Smith, picking up nine yards. Seeing his quarterback do that earned him even more respect from Uzomah. Of course, that also happened to be the play Marshall initially injured his shoulder, which forced him out of the game in the second quarter.
So while he loved the toughness the starting signal-caller exhibited, Uzomah knew it probably wasn't the best move for Marshall to make given the circumstances.
"I was excited about the energy it brought, but at the same time, I was like, 'Dude, come on. You're like a foot away from out of bounds," he said. "We enjoy the fact he brings that to the table. But we also felt he needed to be a little smarter with that."
Though he sat out the final three periods of Saturday's blowout, 45-10 victory, Marshall was back at practice Sunday. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn termed the quarterback's status "day-to-day" for the remainder of the week.
"The fact that he was out there practicing Sunday I thought was a positive," Malzahn said. "We'll know more each day."
During the game, Malzahn wasn't aware that Marshall's decision to deliver a hit at the end of his run was the same play that led to his injury. With that in mind, Malzahn said he and the rest of the coaching staff have to do a better job of educating players — and quarterbacks in particular — when to try to extend plays and when to step out of bounds.
"He's a great competitor, there's no doubt," Malzahn said of Marshall. "You'd rather have to pull him back than ever have to prod him on. He's a great competitor. He's a tough guy, and we've just got to be a little bit smarter the next time we're in that same situation."
Still, Marshall's willingness to level a defender was difficult for teammates to overlook, even to those who are supposed to be protecting him every play. Right guard Chad Slade said he knew Marshall was tough. He had shown that since the moment he arrived in Auburn, Slade said.
But last week's display surprised even him.
“It shocked me very much to see someone that little knock them down," Slade said. "I know when he got back up I told him, ‘You know you wouldn’t do me like that’. I just told him good job on the play and go to the next play. ... I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do Saturday.”
Slade didn't dance around the subject of the quarterback's status.
Despite last week's injury, he fully expects Marshall to start Saturday's road affair versus Arkansas.
"He didn’t let the injury phase him," Slade said. "I asked him if he’s OK and he (said he's) OK. There’s not really anything to worry about on his part. He’s going to be ready to play Saturday.”