AUBURN, Ala. — It didn’t take long for Jarrett Stidham to cement himself as the first-team quarterback in Auburn football spring practices. Auburn brought him in from junior college to win the starting job, and he’s well on his way after a few months on the Plains.
But Stidham says he still feels he has a lot to work on before the start of Auburn’s 2017 season. After his first scrimmage of the season last weekend, Stidham was highly critical of himself to reporters.
“Right now, there’s a lot of weakness,” Stidham said. “I’m trying to be an all-around better football player right now. Whether it’s physical, mental or mechanical, whatever it is, there’s always stuff to improve on.”
Stidham undoubtedly felt that way after Auburn’s second spring scrimmage on Saturday. During the shorter, 55-play scrimmage, Stidham didn’t lead the first-team offense to a touchdown. For a second straight week, Auburn’s first-team defense won the day.
SPRING PRACTICE: Gus Malzahn recaps Auburn football’s second scrimmage
The former Baylor quarterback also tossed an interception that went back for a touchdown after senior linebacker Tre’ Williams tipped one of his passes into the air.
Sophomore running back Kam Martin — a fellow Texas native and former Baylor signee — said Stidham stays “hard on himself” in practices.
“If he messes up, he’ll get frustrated,” Martin said. “But that’s the game. That’s why we’re here. That’s what spring is for, to get better.”
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was quick to say Stidham has showed “some strengths” at quarterback this spring. But the staff likes the sophomore quarterback’s habit of critical self-evaluation.
“He’s just hard on himself,” Malzahn said. “Most quarterbacks usually are. He’s got his handful of things he’s really tried to focus on to get better. I’m sure (Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey) likes that attitude. He’s got to get better.”
Martin said he likes seeing that attitude out of his quarterback, especially one that’s new to the program.
That attitude points back to Stidham’s desire to not just be the best all-around quarterback at Auburn but the best possible leader for the Tigers offense.
“When Jarrett first got here, he told me that he wanted to be a leader from the jump,” Martin said. “That’s what he did. Every day, Jarrett is breaking out of the group. He’s stepping up and trying to be a leader.”
For Stidham, that means extra time in the Auburn football facilities, studying film and learning from the mistakes in his first 11 practices as a Tiger quarterback.
“He’s up at that office a lot on his own,” Malzahn said. “I mean, he’s that gym-rat mentality. So he’s real tough on himself about that kind of stuff. I think he’s done a good job and the fact that he — what he said last Saturday probably makes sense.”
Stidham will take the lessons learned from Saturday’s second scrimmage and focus on them for next weekend’s big debut — A-Day at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the first chance to perform in front of Auburn fans.
“I feel like he’s a complete quarterback, you know?” Martin said. “He can get the job done. … Jarrett looks like an SEC starter, but you know, you still have the other guys behind him that are still competing. The job is wide-open, but Jarrett is real good, and I feel like we’ll see next week at A-Day how everything goes.”