Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics
Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey is overseeing a quarterback battle he says is still a true competition.

Chip Lindsey isn’t buying into talk that Jarrett Stidham has already won Auburn’s starting QB job

AUBURN, Ala. — Chip Lindsey says he won’t read this story. In fact, the first-year offensive coordinator says he doesn’t read what reporters write about Auburn football.

When asked Wednesday evening after Auburn’s third fall camp about the notion in the media Jarrett Stidham will be the Tigers’ starting quarterback in 2017, Lindsey quickly shot it down.

“I don’t really read what you guys write,” Lindsey said. “I really don’t. It’s tunnel vision, man, and the reason is because as a coordinator in a place like this, I’ve got to focus on what’s important. I respect what you guys do, for sure, 100 percent but at the same time I’m with them every day. We’re trying to make the best decision for Auburn and our team, and so really it’s not really an issue.”

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Lindsey has to make a decision on his starting quarterback this month as the Tigers prepare for their fifth season under Gus Malzahn.

He inherited a returning starter in Sean White, who played well at times but was limited by injuries in each of his last two seasons. He also inherited Stidham, the former 5-star and Baylor quarterback who transferred from a junior college to Auburn one month before Malzahn hired Lindsey to lead his offense.

The former Arizona State and Southern Miss offensive coordinator said the coaching staff doesn’t have “a target date” for naming the starter. Malzahn said over the summer he wanted the competition to be settled sooner than usual.

But first, Lindsey wants to see a fully healthy White show what he can do alongside Stidham, who has taken first-team reps in the majority of drills viewed by the media so far in fall camp.

“I want to see them in a lot of situations,” Lindsey said. “We can’t do third down, red zone, two-minute, coming out and all that stuff in the same day. It’s going to take a little time for those situations to play out before we make a decision. Obviously we’re going to make one but I think it’ll be more of a ‘when we know’ kind of thing.”

Auburn football-Auburn Tigers-Jarrett Stidham
Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham is the presumptive favorite to start for the Tigers in 2017. (Justin Ferguson/SEC Country)

On Thursday, Auburn will have its first off day of the week. Lindsey will use that time to evaluate the first three days of Stidham vs. White. He says the Tigers will be able to make the best decision without having the quarterbacks “go live,” which he’s never done as an offensive coordinator.

“That’s the one good thing about not practicing [Thursday], we get a lot of meeting time where we can clean up our mistakes,” Lindsey said. “I think for us, it’s just putting them in different situations. … Obviously, going live has got another element to it, but at the same time, two of the three guys we’ve got have played before, and we feel like we’ve seen enough of that. We’re just looking for really good execution.”

Lindsey was complimentary of both Stidham and White on Wednesday. He liked how White put on “some good weight” for durability after his recent injury issues, and he said the junior quarterback was someone he leaned on in practices.

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As for Stidham, Lindsey is impressed with the Texan’s growing grasp of the Auburn offense. His main goal for the transfer is to develop more chemistry with the receivers, especially with the return of Kyle Davis — a sophomore who missed all of spring ball with Stidham due to “personal business.”

In the end, though, Lindsey wants the winner of his quarterback battle to be the best in one particular area.

“I think (the quarterback) who moves the team best is right, but it’s also the one that affects the other 10 guys the most,” Lindsey said. “For me, it’s about who affects the other 10 guys the best and really off on the sideline, we set a standard. … I want the quarterback to be the guy that kinda of sends the message that the coach is sending.

“Whatever we’re saying, whatever I’m standing up in front of the offense saying, I think our quarterbacks ought to be the guys who are kind of bringing that message to our team.”