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July 15, 2014

Media Days Roundup: Marshall's punishment still up in the air

HOOVER, Ala. - Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said on Monday that Nick Marshall would be punished for his run-in with the law last Friday, but he hasn't yet decided what his senior quarterback's punishment will be or even when he will make that decision.

Marshall was cited - but not arrested - in Georgia last week for possession of a small amount of marijuana, and was a late scratch from Auburn's SEC Media Days roster Sunday night.

Auburn replaced Marshall at SEC Media Days with senior tight end C.J. Uzomah.

"I think it's a privilege and a reward to represent your team at SEC Media Days, and last Friday, he lost that privilege," said Malzahn, adding later: "He will pay the price for it."

In his first year at Auburn, Marshall led the Tigers to the BCS National Championship Game, where they lost 34-31 in heartbreaking fashion to Florida State.

The Georgia native and former junior college transfer passed for 1,976 yards and rushed for 1,068 more last season. He also tossed 14 touchdowns and rushed for 12, throwing six interceptions.

But now it's uncertain whether he will be on the field when Auburn opens the season Aug. 30 against Arkansas.

Malzahn promised on Monday that Auburn would discipline Marshall, but didn't go into further detail.

"I'm hoping he learns a lesson," Malzahn said. "I know he's very remorseful, and that's a start."

EXTINGUISHING THE HOT SEAT. Florida head coach Will Muschamp spent the latter half of last season on the hot seat, with no hope of escaping as the Gators dropped their last seven games.

Florida plummeted to a 4-8 final record, the worst in program history since 1979, and missed a bowl game for the first time since 1990.

Along the way, they lost at home to Georgia Southern and archrival Florida State, who demolished the Gators 37-7 in the final game of the regular season, sending Florida fans into a frenzy.

At SEC Media Days on Monday, Muschamp unveiled his simple solution for getting off the hot seat.

"I think you combat the hot seat talk with having a good team and winning games," Muschamp said. "Control the controllable is always what I've said. Control the things you can control.

"I haven't always practiced it, but try and control the things I can control. That's coaching our football team, developing our football team."

Unfortunately for Muschamp, it's not that easy, as the Gators proved last year. Life in the SEC is tough week in and week out. Teams like Missouri or Auburn can spring up out of the cellar to overtake the entire conference.

And of course, injuries can take their toll.

But even after last season's nightmare finish, Muschamp and his players are optimistic about the season ahead. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, who played three games last season before fracturing his leg, said the players won't be affected by any talk of their coach being on the hot seat.

"I don't think it puts any extra pressure on the players," said Driskel. "It's not something that we talk about or anything that goes through our minds. In college football, coaches are always on the hot seat, and they're always being evaluated year to year, but that's just the nature of the game.

"At the end of the day, there's no added pressure on the players. We do stand 100 percent behind Coach Muschamp, and we'd love to see him be here as long as possible, but we don't feel any extra pressure."

A TOUGH BLOW. Auburn sophomore defensive end Carl Lawson tore his ACL in spring practice, Malzahn said.

Lawson, who earned Freshman All-America consideration after recording 20 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss last season, had successful ACL surgery at the beginning of May, Malzahn said.

The injury will probably keep Lawson out for most of the upcoming season, including Auburn's Oct. 25 matchup with South Carolina. But Malzahn didn't rule out a late return for the 6-foot-2, 261-pound lineman.

"Carl is working extremely hard, and he's determined to come back towards the end of this year," Malzahn said.

SLIVE STILL COPING. In his annual "State of the SEC" address at the start of SEC Media Days on Monday, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive had an interesting take on last season's BCS National Championship Game.

"We competed for our eighth consecutive football national championship," Slive said, midway through listing the conference's accomplishments over the past year. "The game was just a minute too long."

WILLIAMS-BRICE GETS SOME LOVE. Several players at SEC Media Days were asked Monday about the best road environments in the SEC. South Carolina was a common answer.

Auburn senior tight end C.J. Uzomah praised the atmosphere at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but Williams-Brice Stadium was the second venue he mentioned.

"I think South Carolina has to be up there," Uzomah said. "They're loud the entire time."

Auburn senior center Reese Dismukes said he enjoyed his trip to South Carolina in 2011 as well.

Vanderbilt defensive lineman Adam Butler also listed South Carolina among his favorite places to play on the road.

"One exciting place to play is South Carolina," Butler said. "That's because there are so many fans, and then they're all twirling towels, and you know it's a lot of energy.

"The games, no matter what the score is - if South Carolina is losing or if we're losing - it doesn't matter; the energy stays the same."

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