Gus Malzahn's apprehension is understandable. During his news conference Tuesday, Auburn's head coach noted that without the benefit of spring practice, it's hard to predict how Marshall will react.
With that in mind, Malzahn said the coaching staff is going to do its best to "protect" the junior college transfer.
"I'll be curious to see how he responds," Malzahn said. "In practice, you put him through — it doesn't matter if it's quarterback or any other position — as many game-type situations as you can. But until you get him in that arena, that's when everything becomes very clear."
Marshall has shown no traces of the 20 interceptions he threw last season at Garden City Community College, as Malzahn trumpeted his precision.
"He's very accurate -- he really is," Malzahn said. "He's shown that he is accurate, not just in the vertical game but intermediate and short also."
RUNNING BACK BATTLE: The race to start at running back is too close to call.
Malzahn said Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne were “pretty much on equal ground right now” heading into the season opener against Washington State.
“They both had outstanding fall camps,” he said. “Corey Grant’s a guy you could see in the mix too. The best thing is we feel like we’ve got some quality depth at the running back position going in. You can never have enough of that.”
Malzahn went on to list the attributes he believes will help Grant contribute on offense this fall.
“Definitely he’s a speed guy, but he’s a strong guy,” he said. “And he can do the different things we ask our tailbacks to do. You could see him doing just like Tre and Cameron.”