Almost as important as winning the press conference is winning the Finebaum interview.
New Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham is officially a member of the SEC, as he appeared Thursday on the Paul Finebaum Show, starting with praise for the host and then earning some praise of his own about his spirit.
“If you’re in control of this football team nearly as well as you have in this interview, you guys are going go deep into the season,” Finebaum said.
“Wow, how cool,” the host reflected. “I don’t know when a player has aced an interview better than Jarrett Stidham.”
Here’s what the Baylor transfer had to say (Finebaum’s questions are paraphrased):
Paul Finebaum: What was it like to compete in spring and win the starting job?
Jarrett Stidham: “First off, thanks for having me on, I’m a big fan of the show. It’s been a real blessing to be in this position, being the starting quarterback at Auburn University. Obviously I’ve grown up wanting to be a big-time Division I football player and sure enough, here it is, so I’m excited.”
PF: Sean White made favorable comments about you. What’s your relationship like with him?
JS: “It’s been really great. Obviously Sean has a lot of experience playing offense in this league. The SEC is a monster league. So, he’s had a lot of experience and he knows the ins and outs of the offense better than I do. He’s been really supportive of me and everything that’s been going on and positive. He’s bringing a great attitude every single day and it’s been fun to compete with him and work with him every day. He’s been nothing but great, and I think we have a really strong relationship.”
PF: Describe your relationship with offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. What should we be looking for in two weeks?
JS: Coach Lindsey, he’s awesome. First of all, he’s a great guy. That’s really big for me, just to be around good people. Football-wise, he’s very, very sharp. He always has answers for what the defense is giving us. He’s very fun to be around, brings great energy every single day. He’s just a lot of fun to be around. I love getting coached by him. Him and his GA, Cole Weeks, they are a great team, along with coach Malzahn. It’s a great quarterback room. Like I said, it’s just a lot of fun.”
PF: Compare the SEC vs. Big 12 defenses.
JS: “There are similarities and differences between the leagues. The Big 12 is more of a spread-out league, whereas the SEC is not so much. But it’s been great. Obviously, I played against a lot of good defenses in the Big 12, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and the like. Here, going against our defense every day. It’s a top 10 defense, so I’m getting a great look every day. Our offensive line, our running back, receivers, we’re getting great looks, day in and day out. We know this is going to help prepare us for each game this season.”
PF: Talk about playing at Baylor. How do you think that helped prepare you for the SEC?
JS: “Like you said, Baylor, it’s a big-time school. Obviously, we won a lot of ballgames when I played there, we were a top-five offense in the country. Like you said, we went against Oklahoma my freshman year, and they went to the playoff that year. Obviously, they were really, really good and there’s a lot of teams in the Big 12 that had really good defenses as well as offenses. Playing in that my freshman year, getting the little glimpse of college football, I think it’s going to help me moving forward into this season.”
PF: How have you prepared for games such as at LSU week in and week out in the SEC?
JS: “They say it’s a dog fight, week in and week out. There’s no weak opponent in our league. Like I said, each week you’re going to get every team’s best, whether it’s here at Auburn or on the road. Like you said, if it’s Tiger Stadium or down in College Station, wherever it may be, you’re going to get that team’s best every week. I love that about this conference, it’s high competition, very competitive. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
PF: Hard to not look past opener against Georgia Southern and to second week against Clemson, and looking ahead to games down the road?
JS: “It’s always tempting. At the same time, you have to take it one day at a time, one week at a time. Right now, I’m just focused on practice tomorrow and over the next few weeks, we’re just strictly getting ready for Georgia Southern and then it’ll be Clemson and so on and so forth. Especially in this league, in this conference, you can’t push too far ahead, you just have to stay the course week to week.”
PF: What brought you to Auburn?
JS: “I think the first thing, for me, I like to be around a lot of good people. Not even football-wise here, but there’s a lot of great people in the community, and then obviously in the football facility and in athletics as a whole with Mr. Jay Jacobs and so on. Everybody is just awesome around here, great people to be around. Just talking football. Coach Malzahn, he obviously has a great track record here at Auburn, dating back to when he was an OC back in 2010 with Cam Newton and those guys. Obviously, in 2013, when they had the turnaround from the previous season, he’s got a great track record here at Auburn. And obviously, with quarterbacks, he’s done some really special things. I just thought it was the best fit for me and my family and my career moving forward.”
PF: Talk about the weapons you’ll have around you on offense.
JS: “All the way around, like you said, we’ve got some cats that can play. Obviously, at running back, we’ve got a great duo, Kam Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, that’s a great duo to have right next to me on every play. Obviously, up front we have a lot of experience. Some guys that have transferred in that I think can help us as well, and some guys that are going to step up and play big-time for us this year. And then receiver-wise, I come from a school at Baylor where I played with some pretty good receivers, Corey Coleman obviously was the 15th pick in the draft. I’ve been around a lot of good receivers, and this group we have here, they’re really special. They’ve got everything from size, strength, speed, quickness, everything you want in a group of receivers: Toughness, everything you want, they got. I’m looking forward to throwing the ball downfield.”
PF: Do you visualize the opener for Auburn?
JS: “It’s going to be fun. I know me, along with the rest of the guys, we’re itching to get back out there. We’re practicing hard every single day and trying to improve, that way come Saturdays this fall, it’s not as stressful as practice. We’re working hard every single day to get to that point.”
PF: How good do you think this team will be?
JS: “I think this team is a solid team. I think every piece of the puzzle is there. Obviously we just need to do what we’re coached to do and obviously stay healthy because that’s a very big key to success. I think if all those things line up together, I think this could be a good year for us.”