AUBURN, Ala. — With the Texas A&M receivers coming to town, Auburn will need all the help it can get in the secondary.
The biggest defensive back mystery comes in the form of graduate transfer Marshall Taylor, a 6-foot-3 cornerback who arrived at Auburn from Miami (Ohio) this offseason. Since his arrival, he’s been in the news for the wrong reasons. Specifically, he was connected to Jovon Robinson’s dismissal.
Against Arkansas State, Taylor took the field for the first time in his Auburn career. But defensive coordinator Kevin Steele wants to temper the expectations for a player who missed a month of practice.
“He’s practiced well. He’s come along. We keep forgetting sometimes that he’s not had that many practices. I mean, very few, really,” Steele said. “But he’s picked it up very well.”
He’s caught on well enough to see some snaps during the blowout victory; the lanky corner recorded one pass breakup.
It’s that length — his teammates call him 6-10 thanks to his deceptively long arms — that makes Taylor a dangerous weapon in pass defense, and it’s something that could come in handy Saturday versus a tall group of Aggies receivers.
“Marshall is going to be really good. If you’ve ever seen him, he’s really long. He’s like all legs and arms. We call him 6-10 because he’s really long,” defensive back Josh Holsey said. “It doesn’t make any type of sense to be that long at corner, it reall doesn’t. I wish I had his arms, just for a drive. So he’s going to be good.”
With Jamel Dean out with an extended injury, Steele has relied primarily on Carlton Davis, Javaris Davis, John Broussard Jr. and Holsey (Stephen Roberts can help there too now that he’s back). Being able to add another regular to the list — especially considering the upcoming perimeter threat — will be critical.
That’s what Taylor can bring to the table with his cover-corner ability.
“He’s got good ball skills. He’s got good ball skills. He’s long, so it’s hard to get off press coverage with him. He runs good,” Steele said. “And he’s a mentally tough guy too. He can play the next play.”
Typically hands off with the defense, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn wants to see a little more progression from Marshall before he’s thrust into a major role, but he expects that to happen in due time.
“He had a good week of practice last week. He’s had a good week of practice this week,” Malzahn said. “I just think he’s still trying to get in playing shape and get familiar with what we’re doing defensively. He’s definitely a guy that can help us the rest of the season.”