AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football’s offense is making strides heading into the 2017 season.
Chip Lindsey has identified Jarrett Stidham as the starting quarterback. The first-year offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Herb Hand have narrowed down a group of offensive linemen that could start. The Tigers appear set at running back.
When it comes to the wide receivers, however, the storyline is different.
Whenever the unit has come up during this preseason, there’s been a laundry list of players who’ve stood out.
“Yeah, we haven’t narrowed it down like you’re thinking from like three guys,” Lindsey said. “I do think that group as a unit, I think they’re all going to play. I think that’s going to help us play with some tempo, those guys can rotate in and all play fast. I wouldn’t be ready to single two, three guys out.”
But Lindsey has seen coach Kodi Burns’ group improve “tremendously.” There have been several players who’ve had more success competing and snagging 50-50 balls downfield.
“I think that’s been impressive,” he said. “I think they’re playing with more confidence. Obviously those guys were a young group last year, we know that. But I really like the demeanor they have now. I think they’ve got a little swagger about them and feel confident and I think that’s important.”
Kevin Steele’s defense is to thank — at least partly. Competing against so many experienced returners has only helped matters. Now, Lindsey and Burns are going to have a good problem: keeping a young, talented group of receivers happy.
“Coach Lindsey coming in and doing some of the different things that we’re going to do as far as the passing game with RPOs [run-pass options],” Burns said. “Multiple guys are going to have to step up and make plays. It’s not like it has been in the past where one guy has been asked to do this. It’s going to be multiple guys stepping up to make plays.”
A few names have been mentioned more than others, including Sal Cannella, Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton. Nate Craig-Myers had the most impressive showing in Auburn’s spring game and Eli Stove picked up offensive newcomer of the year honors at the team’s banquet following the 2016-17 season.
Then there’s Kyle Davis, who rejoined the team after missing the spring. Will Hastings has popped up in conversation again. Marquis McClain and Noah Igbinoghene were also on the receiving end of touchdown passes in Auburn’s first two scrimmages. And that’s not all of the players in the meeting room.
While Lindsey can’t tell you which receivers will start, there are things he’s certain of.
“Each day I think different guys make plays,” he said. “And I’m counting on all of them being ready to go.”