AUBURN, Ala. -- It was a complete game played by Auburn in its 38-9 win over Arkansas State on Saturday. The offense played well, the defense played well, and even the special teams was solid. Now it’s time to hand out some helmet stickers.
QB Nick Marshall: In his first start, Marshall looked nervous and struggled through the first half. On Saturday, there was no sign of nerves. He completed his first three passes and capped the opening drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Marcus Davis, his first touchdown at Auburn. He also finally connected on a long ball. Marshall threw a beautiful ball to Sammie Coates on a 68-yard touchdown pass late in the first half. The Tigers’ quarterback finished 10 of 17 for 147 yards and the two scores. He also looked better with the zone read and added 53 yards on the ground.
RB Cameron Artis-Payne: Take your pick from the three-headed monster in Auburn’s backfield. Last week, it was Corey Grant. This week, we’ll go with Cameron Artis-Payne. The junior college transfer led the team with 19 carries for 102 yards. He scored his first career touchdown on a physical 12-yard run late in the game, a run that showed both his strength and his quickness. Grant added a touchdown, as did Tre Mason, but it was Artis-Payne who took the bulk of the carries in the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach. Between all three backs, they rushed for a combined 241 yards.
DE LaDarius Owens: Before the game, it was announced that Nosa Eguae would start in place of Owens at one of the defensive end spots. The move provided extra motivation for Owens who came off the bench to lead Auburn with eight tackles, including two for a loss and one sack. He set the tone for an AU defense that was in the backfield all night, either stuffing the run or pressuring the quarterback. The Tigers finished with 13 tackles for loss and two sacks in the victory. The unit was called out after a subpar performance in Week 1, and it responded, especially the defensive line.
Honorable mention: LB Cassanova McKinzy