AUBURN, Ala. — Jarrett Stidham received praise well before he began practicing full time with Auburn.
The quarterback transfer arrived on campus as Auburn prepared for its Sugar Bowl matchup against Oklahoma in December. For the most part, Stidham only went through individual workouts. Still, coaches and teammates immediately lauded his eagerness to lead and dedication in the film room.
Now the Tigers have finished 7 of 14 spring workouts and with the first scrimmage approaching this weekend, all eyes are on Auburn’s quarterback rotation.
“Quarterbacks have been doing well,” junior receiver Ryan Davis said. “Coach (Chip) Lindsey has done a great job and teaching the guys, they’ve taken the coaching very well. I would say they’ve been doing well. All the guys have a nice, strong arm and they all bring a different element to the game.”
So how is the former Baylor QB distinguishing himself from Sean White, Woody Barrett and freshman Malik Willis?
“I would say arm strength,” Davis said. “He’s very smart and intelligent, and he knows what he’s going to do before he does it. He has a great understanding of the offense and of defenses. That’s what stands out to me.”
Arm strength will be a key factor this fall. Chip Lindsey sent a strong message to his players that Auburn will throw the football more than it has in recent seasons.
Outside of White, Stidham offers the most game experience.
At Baylor, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound quarterback made three starts for Art Briles’ Bears in 2015. Stidham played in 10 games total that season, throwing for 1,265 yards and a dozen touchdown passes while Baylor led the nation in total offense. That’s translated to perhaps a slight edge in terms of knowledge as well.
Lindsey hasn’t dumped Auburn’s entire playbook on his quarterbacks this spring. To this point the coordinator’s focus largely has been evaluation.
Scrimmages and a strong A-Day Game performance on April 8 will start pointing the coaching staff toward its decision.
“I think Chip is more interested in how they comprehend and how they react and who can stay calm in the pocket and who can do the progressions and who can protect the football,” coach Gus Malzahn said. “I would say we’re not ready to really give any of them arrived or not arrived, it’s more of just the process of spring. As it gets to the last five practices things usually start to kind of make things clear.”