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Auburn football: Teammates focused on future, picking up Nick Marshall and Jonathon Mincy after off-field incidents

AUBURN, Ala. — While Friday marked the first time media members and the public found out about the consequences of Nick Marshall’s and Jonathon Mincy’s marijuana-related incidents — neither will start the season opener — their Auburn teammates had already turned their attention toward the future.

The incidents happened, and there’s nothing they can do to change that now.

“We know that things happen, and we’re going to have to deal with adversity. We’ve done it before, and we’re going to have to do it now,” junior linebacker Kris Frost said. “We just know what’s important and know what we need to focus on. We expected there to be a lot of media coverage on the situation. We’ve dealt with things like that before, so it’s not a big thing.”

Ricardo Louis concurred. No team wants to deal with adversity if it doesn’t have to, the junior receiver acknowledged. Inevitably, though, adversity sets in at some point every season.

The way Louis sees it, the Tigers responded to these situations perfectly.

“I think we’ve handled it in the right way — not letting it affect us in the process of moving forward,” he said. “Everybody has to deal with it and we have to move forward.”

When Marshall and Mincy talked to the team prior to SEC media days, they apologized for letting their teammates down and causing unneeded distractions. Emotions were raw, Frost said — everyone was upset. But at this point, the only thing the rest of the Tigers can do is give them their support.

Marshall and Mincy won’t be gone for long, after all.

“Whenever they are going to get to come back, we’re going to welcome them back with open arms,” Frost said. “As of right now, the main focus is preparing for Arkansas. Nick is still our quarterback, and we all know that whenever he and Mincy come back in that game, we’ll be ready for them.”

The first time the pair stepped on the field this fall, teammates could tell neither Marshall nor Mincy had let the issues linger.

“He’s out there making throws and making plays. That shows me that it doesn’t affect him at all,” Louis said of Marshall. “He’s a leader.”

But Marshall didn’t act like one July 11, when he was cited for marijuana possession less than an ounce outside Reynolds, Ga. To have these two incidents come from seniors let Jermaine Whitehead down. A senior himself, he said the Tigers’ upperclassmen have to set a better example.

In that regard, Marshall and Mincy dropped the ball this offseason due to their off-field indiscretions.

“We've got to be better leaders and put ourselves in a better position to market ourselves, not only for the NFL, but for the younger guys behind us,” Whitehead said. “We've got a platform that we've got to live up to and we've got to have different standards than anybody in the country.”

If a teammate had been hanging out with Marshall or Mincy at the time, Whitehead didn’t think the incidents would have occurred. That’s because a teammate would have held them accountable, Whitehead said, pointing out that they were putting themselves — and by extension, the rest of the team — in a bad spot.

On the other hand, Whitehead said it’s human nature for people to make mistakes.

It wouldn’t help matters for him join the chorus of critical voices.

“I'm on their side. Those are my brothers and I'm here to fight with them and for them. They tell me their stories and I can only go by what they say,” he said. “I know how life is. We've just been there for them, because I know they're going to need to be picked up. For us to have a great season, we're going need both of those guys to make a lot of plays this year. I don't have the time to think about the negative aspect of it.”

In a way, though, Malzahn wants Marshall and Mincy to dwell on it. Both have responded the way he’d like thus far.

But if they don’t learn from these mistakes, they are doomed to repeat them.

“My hope is that this will help them in the future,” Malzahn said, “and I truly believe it will.”

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