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Offensive Coordinator Chip Lindsey Discusses Auburn's Spring Football Quarterback Competition

News and notes from Auburn's fourth spring practice are featured with comments from the new offensive coordinator.

Jarrett Stidham (8) prepares to hand off the football to Kerryon Johnson at Tuesday's football practice.

Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn's new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said he likes the focus he has seen from the players through four spring dates.

“It has been really good,” said Lindsey, who made the move to AU this year from Arizona State, where he spent one season directing the offense.

“I told them a while ago they have been really good about the energy and locking in and getting ready to go,” said Lindsey, who added, “We are just trying to get those guys to focus like you would in any classroom--you’re trying to get your students focused. It’s the same thing for us. We start with our walk-through and I have been really pleased with our guys for the first four practices for sure.”

The Tigers practiced for more than two hours on Tuesday, taking advantage of their indoor facility on a rainy day.

Lindsey’s job responsibilities include being the quarterback coach. He said the group is off to a solid start after our practices.

“The first thing is they are all great kids,”?he said. “That makes it a lot easier to go in that meeting room every day when you enjoy being around those guys, and I really enjoy being around them.

“Sean has been great,” he said of returning starter Sean White, who is recovering from a broken bone in his arm suffered in the Sugar Bowl. “He has had some limited throwing on the side, kind of rehabbing and stuff, but he’s dialed in and helping me coach the young quarterbacks which I think is important.Sean has played a lot so he has got a lot of knowledge and foundation to lean on,” the coach noted.

Jarrett Stidham, a transfer from Baylor, is getting plenty of snaps with the first team. “Jarrett has played some, too,”?Lindsey said about the redshirt sophomore quarterback. “That has been good. Those older guys are a little bit more mature and have done a really good job of kind of mentoring the younger quarterbacks. It has been great. I have enjoyed being around them and learning their personalities. I have enjoyed working with them so far.”

Senior John Franklin spent much of Tuesday’s practice at wide receiver, but is still getting some reps at quarterback. “If John doesn’t win the starting job then he’s going to go play another position, but as of right now he’s definitely still in the mix,” Lindsey said.

Woody Barrett, a redshirt freshman, and early high school graduate Malik Willis are also competing at quarterback.

“We are still kind of evaluating all of them to be honest with you,” Lindsey said. “I think Jarrett, Woody and Malik have started getting the bulk of a lot of our reps, but at the same time were not anywhere to say what we are going with these guys or whatever.”

Commenting on Barrett, the coach said, “Woody is talented guy, obviously a redshirt freshman. He’s still trying to figure out his first spring. I’m excited about his progress. I’ve been really pleased with all of them so far, but for sure Malik and Woody being younger guys who have been getting some reps. I am excited about Woody’s progress.”

Commenting on Willis, Lindsey said, “For a freshman, for a guy that really should be in high school getting ready for prom, I think he’s been really, really good.  He’s a mature kid. He played at a great program at Roswell (High School) with some really good coaches. You can tell he’s played a high level of high school football.

“I think Malik is a very talented guy,” the coach added. “He is smart, he is trying everything he can to soak in everything. Obviously, you get up there the speed of the game in college football your first time in it is going to be an adjustment. Today I really thought the game slowed down for him a little bit. He kind of got his feet going with his upper body, sometimes his feet are going one way and his body is going another. I really like his progress.”

Head coach Gus Malzahn said that the plan will be to narrow the number of QBs in the mix for the starting job as spring progresses. Asked if he will narrow the field after the Tigers scrimmage, Lindsey said, “Yeah, I think so. I think we’ll know when we know. I’m not ready after four practices to say this guy is this or that, I think it’s a continued evaluation throughout spring ball. We don’t play until September and I think our guys do a great job of practicing fast and getting a lot of reps so I think we’ll kind of just know when we know.”

Lindsey said not to expect a starter named this spring, echoing what the head coach mentioned last week. “I want to see Sean. Sean’s made a lot of plays here. When he’s been healthy he’s been really effective. I don’t think we’re even close to even discussing anything like that yet.”

Lindsey is expected to pass the ball more than the Tigers have in recent years and that is just fine with sophomore wide receiver Nate Craig.

“That is every receiver’s dream,” Craig said. “Your eyes light up. We are a run team so when you hear the ball is coming to the outside, the perimeter, it feels good because now we feel like we can makes plays.

“He’s a great guy, a great coach to have,” he said. “He always brings a lot of energy to practice. I just love the offensive schemes he has for us.”

The Tigers will practice once on Thursday before taking a full week off for the university’s spring break.

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