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Cam Newton tougher early read than new QB for Gus Malzahn

Michael Perez / Associated Press
Cam Newton was not a star from the start during his Heisman season at Auburn.

Comparisons between NFL quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and new Auburn starting quarterback Nick Marshall -- who has yet to play an SEC down in his career -- would be silly in just about every way.

Except one.

More than anyone, Gus Malzahn is qualified to compare Newton's fit on offense for his only SEC season to how well Marshall fits the same system. The new Auburn coach was Newton's offensive coordinator at AU. And Malzahn indicated to al.com that Marshall's strengths could flourish in the system much more quickly than Newton's did.

"We're always going to play to our quarterback's strengths, but he's very unique. There's no doubt," Malzahn said of Marshall. "He's a phenomenal athlete. One of the better athletes I've probably gotten a chance to coach at the quarterback position."

Malzahn also commented on how comfortable Marshall was the first time was exposed to live, full-contact, 11-on-11 practice. As for Newton?

"If you would have watched Cam two and a half weeks into spring practice, in all fairness, you didn't know for sure he was going to be the quarterback," Malzahn said. "Everything wasn't perfect."

Indeed, Newton's Heisman campaign got off to a slow start. He threw three of his seven interceptions on the season by the third game, with a season-low 50 percent completion rate in game three against Clemson.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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