To many observers on the outside, Gus Malzahn naming Jarrett Stidham the starting quarterback for the Auburn Tigers was a forgone conclusion. Malzahn took care of naming Stidham the starting quarterback earlier this week and ended any speculation that might have remained.
The road to Auburn was an interesting one for Stidham. He started out at Baylor before problems developed there, and Art Briles was fired. Stidham then sat out a year from football before choosing Auburn over Florida and Texas A&M. What this does for the Auburn Tigers is gives them a semblance of a passing attack, after struggling the past two seasons. Auburn averaged 169.5 yards per game through the air last season and Stidham gives the Tigers hope of improving upon those numbers.
Stidham gave a hint of what he can do in the Auburn offense during the spring game, where he passed for over 250 yards. Stidham beat out Sean White for the Auburn quarterback job. White suffered from injuries last season but led the SEC in completion percentage. The Auburn quarterback situation seems to be settled with a quality starter and a proven backup quarterback. And the Tigers will have a strong running game to compliment the passing game.
Perhaps an important part of the QB battle has been how much each quarterback supports the other, as Stidham told Paul Finebaum on Thursday’s “The Paul Finebaum Show.”
“It’s been really great. Obviously, Sean has a lot of experience playing in this offense and this league,” Stidham said on the show. “The SEC is a monster league. 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. Very positive.
The Tigers do have some areas of concern with the quarterback situation, though. The first area of concern is whether or not Stidham can comfortably grasp the offensive schemes. Another issue is if Stidham can gel with the Auburn wide receivers before the first game of the season. The more reps the receivers and Stidham have the better the chances that the Tigers passing game will improve.
How the Tigers fair in the SEC West depends heavily on whether or not Stidham can get comfortable in the Auburn offense. Gus Malzahn’s offense is always at its best when it has a solid signal caller running the show and Stidham possibly its best quarterback since Cam Newton. Auburn, as well as college football fans, will get answers to those questions on Sept. 9 against Clemson.