*Courtesy Auburn Media Relations*
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn had a message for quarterback Nick Marshall.
Quit trying to drive defensive backs out of bounds. Stay healthy. Play smart.
Don't make your coach sweat out another week to see if you're healthy enough to play.
Malzahn waited through most of last week to make sure Marshall's sore shoulder was good enough to face Arkansas last Saturday, and both were rewarded with a 35-17 victory in Fayetteville.
Now Auburn, one of the hottest teams around at 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference, will be looking for similar results at Tennessee this Saturday.
Marshall said at Arkansas the shoulder injury he suffered the previous week against Florida Atlantic was a deep bruise. Marshall said Sunday there's "not too much wrong" with it. Certainly, he was healthy enough to hit 7-of-8 passes at Arkansas, including an 88-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates.
Marshall missed the Western Carolina game with a sore knee, and lasted only the first quarter against Florida Atlantic after driving a defender out of bounds and getting hurt. Malzahn reminded him then to play smart enough to last the season.
"Oh, yeah, he made it clear," Marshall said. "He just told me not to do that anymore, because really, I don't need to be getting hurt like this coming toward the end of the season. He told me to be smart with my decision-making and get out of bounds from here on out."
That may not be so easy.
"He's a tough guy and his toughness carries over to our team," Malzahn said.
But Marshall says he'll dutifully "listen to what coach says. I know it's really important that I don't need to be getting hurt these last few games, so I've just got to take what the defense gives me and get out of bounds from there."
Still, Marshall says "you've just got to be really aggressive, because that's the kind of team we are. We don't show any weakness."
Auburn's nine total passes against Arkansas were the fewest passing attempts for the Tigers since throwing nine against Georgia in 1984. But Marshall says he was ready if needed. Thing is, he wasn't needed to throw. Tre Mason rushed for 168 yards and four touchdowns.
But Marshall still lit it up the Razorbacks with the long TD pass to Sammie Coates.
"Because if it came down to it, and I had to throw it, I knew I'd be able to make those throws," Marshall said.