Jonathan Marshall didn’t win SEC defensive player of the week (his teammates did, though!), but he might have been the best player on the field in Saturday night’s Arkansas victory in Starkville.
With the announcement before the game that both starting defensive ends would be out, you had to wonder what kind of pressure the defensive linemen would be able to put on the Bulldogs. Presumably, defensive coordinator Barry Odom was going to have to put as many people back as he could muster. Would our typical four-down linemen be able to make K.J. Costello uncomfortable?
Our three-down linemen would do it.
From the outset, the three-man front gave Costello no space with which to work. Watch Jonathan Marshall bulldoze Mississippi State’s Cole Smith into the quarterback. How ya gonna be accurate passing the ball when ya got all that body on your leg??
Later, in the second quarter, you can see the linemen forcing Costello out of the pocket (despite Zach Williams getting held pretty egregiously and hilariously), and Marshall chasing the quarterback all the way to the sideline and making him throw to Joe Foucha, who made an NFL play, keeping his feet inbounds on the interception.
We’ve been hearing for a long time that Marshall was a freakish athlete, and he really showed it on Saturday.
And then...the pièce de résistance.
On fourth-and-less-than-one, Jonathan Marshall got into the backfield so quickly that Jo’quavious Marks lost two yards running straight up the middle. What was Mississippi State’s plan here? The center went to block a linebacker, and the left guard...made a business decision about not getting in Marshall’s way?
Big Jon ended up with only three tackles, with two solo. Here is the perfect example that stats don’t tell the whole story. Marshall was in the backfield making K.J. Costello jittery the whole game. His presence enabled the rest of the defense to sit back and guard all the space that Mississippi State took advantage of the week before. He was a dang man, and I’m excited to see him ball out the rest of the season.
Arkansas' Jonathan Marshall (Nose) was the highest graded player on the field last night per @PFF_College edging out like 3 Ark OLs. Oink friggin oink.— Richard Johnson (@RJ_Writes) October 4, 2020
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