Auburn boss Gus Malzahn has announced that Nick Marshall, as well as cornerback Jonathon Mincy, will not be starting the Tigers' season opener against Arkansas as a result of their arrests for marijuana possession. While the matter of whether they should be disciplined at all is debatable (and we're not particularly interested in that argument), what's more pertinent to us here at BotC is how it's going to affect K-State.
Malzahn's statements seem to imply that, for both players, this is an Ell Roberson situation. The only thing Malzahn is committing to is that they won't start, and there's pretty much zero chance whatsoever that the pair will still be sitting on the sideline when Auburn rolls into Manhattan. But what transpires in the season opener is likely going to have a large impact on precisely how long the pseudo-suspensions last, and that's going to affect the Wildcats' planning for the big tussle on September 18.
The first thing to keep in mind is that Auburn's second game is against San Jose State, a team which has lost a supremely talented quarterback who still only led them to a mediocre season as a senior. It is almost certain that the K-State coaching staff won't learn a great deal watching film of the Auburn-San Jose State game. Which means that the game situation at Jordan-Hare on August 30 will be of immense importance.
If Auburn jumps out to a big lead early, it's entirely possible that neither Marshall nor Mincy will even see the field. It's a lot easier to mete out a serious punishment when the game situation dictates that it's a better idea to just let the players sit rather than risk injury in a game that's already under control. Conversely, if Arkansas gets an early lead, or is hanging tough, the odds of Malzahn breaking the glass on one or both players increases dramatically.
Which leads to the question of the day: which situation is better for the Wildcats? On the one hand, having Marshall and Mincy on the sideline for as long as possible deprives them of live game reps. That works to K-State's benefit. But at the same time, it deprives K-State of current game film against Power Five competition. The flip side is that if the suspensions are dramatically short -- for instance, only the first quarter -- then the coaching staff will have film to work with, but at the cost of Marshall and Mincy getting quality reps.
It's probably best for K-State to have the suspensions be as brief as possible. Auburn can't pull the Bill Snyder rope-a-dope in the opener. It's a conference game; if Arkansas is scrapping, Malzahn's going to have to open the playbook. That's far more useful than the benefit of having the players miss reps, because they're going to get game action against the Spartans regardless. Further, while game action is a vitally important part of the never-ending player development curve in college football, Auburn's still going to have three weeks' worth of practice to work out the kinks.
So with all that in mind, let's have a Saturday discussion. What's your take, and how do you think this will all play out?