AUBURN -- Nick Marshall and Jonathon Mincy will not start against Arkansas as a result of their recent marijuana-related run-ins with the law.
"I've decided that they will not start game one," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Friday. "I will say this: Nick Marshall is still our quarterback. Jonathon Mincy is still our cornerback but that's part of their punishment."
Malzahn said he was "not ready" to say how long Marshall and Mincy will be held out.
Neither Marshall or Mincy, who both practiced with the first teams on Friday, has spoken publicly since their respective incidents, though both have posted on social media.
"My Future Will Be Better Than My Past!" Mincy tweeted after Friday's practice.
Marshall was cited for possession of marijuana during a traffic stop in Reynolds, Georgia on July 11. His mother paid his $1,100 fine on July 23 and the case is closed.
Malzahn on Marshall & Mincy: "I've decided that they will not start game 1 as part of their punishment."— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) August 1, 2014
Mincy was arrested for possession of marijuana during a traffic stop in Abbeville on June 27. He entered a pre-trial diversion program on July 25 and that case is also closed.
Teammates have all voiced strong support of the two seniors.
"Obviously we're behind both of them 100 percent," center Reese Dismukes said. "Whatever 11 are on the field, we're going to play with and we're going to go out there and try to win football games."
Safety Jermaine Whitehead, also a senior, has played in the same defensive backfield with Mincy their entire careers. They both started all 14 games on the field side of secondary last season.
"I'm on their side. Those are my brothers and I'm here to fight with them and for them," Whitehead said. "They tell me their stories and I can only go by what they say. I know how life is. We've just been there for them, because I know they're going to need to be picked up.
"For us to have a great season, we're going need both of those guys to make a lot of plays this year. I don't have the time to think about the negative aspect of it. It happened and it's time to move on."
Widely considered a Heisman Trophy, Marshall threw for 1,976 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for 1,068 yards and 12 scores while helping lead the Tigers to the SEC Championship last season.
The Rochelle, Georgia native was a preseason First Team All-SEC selection and named to the Maxwell, Davey O'Brien and Walter Camp award watch lists.
Mincy, a preseason Third Team All-SEC selection, is Auburn's most experienced cornerback. He had 56 tackles with 14 pass breakups and an interception last season.
The punishments, though unclear in exact terms, mean Auburn will have its eighth different starting quarterback in a season opener in as many seasons as Jeremy Johnson will start for just the second time in his short college career.
"Me and (offensive coordinator) Rhett (Lashlee) decided Jeremy Johnson was going to have a bigger role regardless this year," Malzahn said. "We've talked about him and his ability and how we feel about him. We feel very good about our quarterback position as a whole."
Players and coaches have said they don't believe the offense will change with the comparatively less mobile Johnson, who took reps with the second team on Friday, starting.
The Tigers host the Razorbacks in four weeks and will keep the task at hand as the main focus now that Malzahn has made his decision public.
"It happens to a lot of teams. A lot of teams have that adversity come; it's just about how you handle it," Ricardo Louis said. "I think we've handled it in the right way — not letting it affect us in the process of moving forward."
James Crepea writes for The Montgomer (Ala.) Advertiser
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