Auburn football practice report, Aug. 17: Nick Marshall close to being named starter

Todd Van Emst/Auburn University photo

Only two weeks remain until Auburn's opening game against Washington State.

Auburn was set to hold a scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday morning, but bad weather forced the Tigers inside, and head coach Gus Malzahn adjusted. Auburn ran a situational practice, and while the media wasn't in attendance, former players and boosters were allowed to watch. Here's what we've been told by people who saw the action with their own eyes:

  • Nick Marshall is the man. The JUCO transfer ran with the first team offense and excelled, showing great speed and good decision making. Malzahn plans to name a starter soon, and Marshall will almost certainly win the job.
  • Jeremy Johnson looked good, too, but he's not quite ready for the big time. He threw two interceptions and didn't grasp some of the little things necessary to play QB in the SEC (i.e. looking off safeties). He might not be the quarterback for 2013, but he is definitely the future.
  • The defensive backs should be much better than they have been in years past. They looked great in both man-to-man and zone.
  • The defensive line got some penetration, but the offensive line played well, too.
  • Jake Holland, who in recent days has been challenging for the starting middle linebacker job, didn't look good. Kris Frost, Holland's main competition, had an interception.
  • Overall, the team looked disciplined, a welcome development.

Some notes from the post-practice press conference:

Well, whatever hope McNeal had of reemerging as a starter in 2013 may be gone. The safety went through personal struggles during spring practice, but he had discussions with Malzahn and seemed to put those issues behind him. But with a drug-related arrest, it's hard to see Meat remaining on the team. Malzahn has said he'll review all the facts regarding the arrest before making a decision.

With potentially one fewer safety on the team, that could be a reason for this bit of surprising news:

Kiehl Frazier hasn't played safety since high school, and he's only begun to relearn the position in the last few days. If he earns playing time by the time Week 1 comes around, that will incredible. Tight end C.J. Uzomah said after practice that Frazier's back ground as a quarterback is helping him learn his new position faster than expected, and it really could give him an advantage on the field.

The Dee Ford and Justin Garrett injury watch continues. Hopefully, they'll be back soon.

Real football is almost here. Hurry up, football.

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