Jarrett Stidham (above) throws a pass in Saturday's scrimmage.
Auburn, Ala.--Going more than 100 plays in the first football scrimmage of spring training, Auburn's head coach said he liked what he saw on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Matching the best vs. the best, the twos vs. the twos and the rest vs. the rest, the Tigers ran the ball more than they threw it, but the ratio was closer to even than it normally is for a Gus Malzahn opening scrimmage of spring drills, the first with Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator.
Neither the offense nor defense dominated the action. “Really, I think it was pretty even,”?Malzahn said. “I really do. There were some good things on defense. The defense forced some three-and-outs. The offense moved the football. It was really close today is what I would say.”
Commenting on the format, the head coach noted, “We had 60 percent run, 40 percent pass. Usually, our first scrimmages in the past have been 80-20. We were a little bit more balanced. We talked about really for the offense trying to be more balanceds so that was by design.”
Jarrett Stidham, the transfer quarterback from Baylor, got the bulk of the practice time with the one offense and had some success throwing the ball down the field, but said that he can improve.
“There’s definitely some rust--a little bit,”Stidham said after his first Auburn scrimmage. “I tried to get most of that off in the first day or two. It was good to just get back out there and scrimmage against a full blown defense with referees out there and everything like that.”
After playing in Baylor’s offense in 2015, Stidham is working at mastering what Auburn does. “There are definitely some similar things, but there are also some differences,” the redshirt sophomore said. “I am just trying to get it all down as much as I can right now, stay in the film room, stay in the playbook as much as possible, work with the coaches and do everything I can.”
Woody Barrett, the redshirt freshman, did not have a good opening scrimmage of the spring, but newcomer Malik Willis did. The early high school graduate who joined the program in January after leading his team to the big school championship game for Georgia back in December, showed an accurate arm and quick feet.
Willis threw touchdown passes to quarterback-turned-receiver, John Franklin, and Darius Slayton.
John Franklin runs after a catch in Saturday's scrimmage.
Sean White, last year’s starter at quarterback, is throwing the ball in practice, but is not cleared for contact because he is recovering from a broken bone in his arm suffered i the Sugar Bowl.
Commenting on Stidham, Malzahn said, “I thought it was good for him out there in the stadium. He hadn't played football in a year so it's different when you get out here. I thought he did some good things.
“He did some things that Chip will work on correcting for the rest of spring,” Malzahn said. “Even though he wasn't live, when you're out here in scrimmage football and the coaches aren’t there and they are off on the sidelines, you just let your guys play. You learn a lot. It was good for him.”
While Stidham was off limits to being hit, that wasn’t the case with the Willis and Barrett. “We have a little more information on him and those older guys,” Malzahn said in explaining why Stidham was in a no-contact jersey. “Those two young guys, we really wanted to give them a chance to show what they could do.”
Asked for his take on those two quarterbacks, Malzahn said, “It was good. They both have the running ability. Both of them at times use their legs, but it was good to see how they react in the pocket, especially dropping back and feeling pressure.
“There is not a quick whistle like there is when you are in an orange jersey,” the coach noted. “It gave Chip some good information on both of them to start working on specific things the rest of the spring.”
One of the guys snapping the football to the quarterbacks, Austin Golson, said he was impressed with Willis, the team’s newest QB. “He’s a stud, there’s no doubt about it,” the center said. “He’s going to be really good.
“He kind of reminds me a lot of Nick (Marshall). He can run and make plays whenever plays might not be there. I’m really excited about his future.”
Malzahn noted that t was good for the defense to let several of the quarterbacks go live for full contact in the scrimmage.
The Tigers will return to the field for practice number nine of the spring on Tuesday. The A-Day Game is scheduled for Saturday, April 8th.