Nick Marshall tried everything he could think of to get a grip.
As a steady rain pelted an already angry and hostile Tiger Stadium throughout the first half Saturday, Auburn’s junior quarterback never could fully grasp the continually soaked football.
“It got so bad there for awhile the balls were hard keeping them dry,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
But whether he tried one glove or two, nothing seemed to work as Marshall turned the ball over three times — including two interceptions on overthrown passes — as No. 6 LSU mounted a 21-0 lead in the first half and held on for a 35-21 victory.
“I started the second quarter (with gloves on both his hands) because I’ve done it before when I was in (junior college), but it wasn’t that effective, so I just took (the glove on my throwing hand) off,” Marshall said.
Battling the poor conditions, Marshall’s SEC road debut began with a miserable 6-of-16 passing in the first half for 31 yards, including just 2-of-6 for 9 yards in the first quarter, twice overthrowing sophomore receiver Sammie Coates deep in the first half.
“It was difficult because I don’t really have big hands, but then again, that’s not an excuse. I’m still suppose to make those throws,” Marshall acknowledged.
One of those was his first interception of the game, as LSU safety Craig Loston pulled down a poorly thrown pass down the right sideline two plays after fullback J.C. Copeland put LSU ahead 21-0 with 12:34 to play in the second quarter.
“The interception, I threw too far inside. I should have thrown that outside,” Marshall said. “But that just comes with practice, and I’m going to go back next week and work on that.”
Turnovers continued to be a problem for Auburn, though, as its first two drives ended prematurely, the first on a fumbled exchange between Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne and the second a botched punt by Steven Clark that set up LSU at Auburn’s 10-yard line.
The result was the same each time, though, as LSU running back Jeremy Hill ran it in relatively untouched from 49 and 10 yards out to give LSU a 14-0 lead.
“That was my fault because that was a pull-read, and I handed it off and he just dropped it, but we’re going to correct that,” Marshall said of the fumbled handoff with Artis-Payne that ended Auburn’s opening series.
Despite a second consecutive game of more than 200 yards passing, finishing 17-of-33 for 224 yards through the air to go along with 46 rushing yards, Marshall couldn’t get comfortable in the first-half conditions in a hostile environment.
“He never got in a rhythm. It was his first road game, he definitely started out that way, there’s no doubt,” Malzahn said of Marshall. “It was raining pretty good. They ball was wet on one and we just never got in a rhythm.
“I think he finally settled down in the second half.”
Marshall was 11-of-17 passing in the second half for 193 yards, 139 of those coming on four completions to Coates.