AUBURN, Ala. — Even as the competition rages between Jarrett Stidham and Sean White, Auburn’s wide receivers are having no problem connecting with a potential starter this preseason.
“It’s not tough at all,” Ryan Davis said. “We get the same amount of reps with all of the quarterbacks so it’s not tough. We’ve been with those guys since the spring so we know those guys well. They know us well. We all have chemistry with the quarterbacks.”
Mixed reports followed the first scrimmage on Monday morning. Linebacker Darrell Williams said Stidham threw at least one touchdown, giving the impression that White may have had the better start to the week.
Regardless of the plays made in Jordan-Hare Stadium, however, the quarterbacks’ abilities to develop a bond with a largely unproven group of receivers has been a concern this summer — at least to those outside the confines of the Auburn Athletic Complex.
For those inside the practice facility the process, even under a new offensive coordinator, has been simple. In the days leading up to the first fall scrimmage, Chip Lindsey had been impressed with both White and Stidham.
Though both have an obvious advantages — White started 10 games last season and should be more familiar with his offensive weapons, while Stidham arrived on the Plains and seems to have the talent and charisma to develop chemistry quickly — both have been under pressure to progress as Auburn looks to name a starter.
“Sean is really smart,” Lindsey said early in camp. “He’s been around and played a lot for sure. I think what I’ve seen from Sean, Sean is a guy who I lean on some because he’s played here… I think where Sean’s mindset is. He’s here to work and compete and so far it’s been really good.”
And then there’s the highly anticipated Stidham, who despite not having taken a snap in the SEC has already been mentioned in Heisman conversations. He also seems to be fitting in well with his new squad. Ahead of each fall practice Stidham makes the rounds amongst his teammates, tapping the tops of helmets. Respect seems to have been earned quickly.
“He’s doing everything he’s supposed to do, (that) Coach Lindsey has asked him,” Davis said. “He’s just trying to improve every day and get better. That’s all he’s focused on right now just trying to help his team anyway he can.”
Lindsey has said he wants his starter to be the person who “affects the 10 other guys the most.” Chemistry may be the deciding factor when Gus Malzahn announces the winner of the battle publicly.
The OC has seen improvement from Stidham in several areas. For the frontrunner to lock up the job, a deciding factor will be “getting comfortable” with the Tigers’ wideouts. It’s a process that’s taken time, but one Stidham might be closing in on.
“That’s continuing to improve with the timing of every play and the timing against every look,” Lindsey said. “For Jarrett the more he sees and the more looks he gets, the better he’ll get.”