Gus Malzahn (above left) and Chip Lindsey are shown at spring practice.
Auburn, Ala.--With a trio of players to put on center stage who have never taken a publically watched snap for the Auburn Tigers, quarterback play will be one of the most watched aspects of Saturday’s annual A-Day Game.
With returning starter Sean White not cleared for contact while recovering from a broken bone in his arm, transfer Jarrett Stidham, redshirt freshman Woody Barrett and early high school graduate Malik Willis will do the passing in the spring game.
“What we will try to do probably is just build our game plan based on what we have practiced and what we are good at,” said Chip Lindsey, Auburn’s first-year offensive coordinator and coach of the quarterbacks.
“We are not going to be able to kind of reinvent the wheel for the A-Day Game,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for the quarterbacks from my standpoint will be playing in front of a crowd and going through the kind of pre-game routine of the timing and everything that goes along with it. I think it's a good practice run at that.
“There will be a little more juice about them playing in front of a crowd, but at the end of the day we have got to really try to focus on the things that we have already done and really get our guys to see who can execute our base plays that we have been running and who leads our team, who affects the other 10 guys the best. That is really what I'm looking for.”
Lindsey made the comments on Thursday evening after the team’s final practice prior to A-Day, a two-hour session in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets.
“We are going to throw the ball, for sure,” Lindsey said. “I don’t know relative to how many times and all that. You know how these games are. The first half, from what I understand, is regular clock and then the second half is a running clock. For me, we have been thinking through the things that we have been good at and trying to execute. I think we will throw it some, for sure.”
Asked if he has a specific number of passes or plays for each quarterback, Lindsey replied, “Not really. The game is going so fast.
“This is a little different, too, because you will call the offense for a group and the next group goes in. I?have got to call the offense for them, too, so there is not a lot of time in between to do a lot of adjusting or look at how many times we have done something. That is kind of hard in this setting to do that.
“We are just going to try to run our base offense and hopefully get a few balls down the field,” Lindsey said. “We definitely want to do that, but at the same time I am interested in our quarterbacks just executing. If they will do that and their eyes are in the right place and their fundamentals are good, and, hopefully, we will throw it and catch it, but at the end of the day I just want to make sure that they are dialed in and they are where they are supposed to be.”
Jarrett, a transfer from Baylor who attended junior college last fall, did not play football last fall. He has been working with the ones this spring with White not allowed to have contact.
Jarrett Stidham is in his first spring at Auburn.
“Jarrett is a smart guy,” Lindsey said. “He comes up here and studies a lot and does a lot on his own, which is good. That's the characteristic of a really good quarterback and some of the others do it too.
“I think Jarrett is really a gym rat, so to speak, football-wise and spends a lot of his own time looking at the things that we're trying to do. I have seen him catch on pretty quick, You can tell he's played some, obviously in a different system but a lot of similarities to some of the things he's done before.”
Asked how much Stidham will play on Saturday, Lindsey said, “That's a good question. I don't know yet--just going to have to wait and see how it goes. He has gotten a lot of reps, but Jarrett is a guy who has missed a year and sat out so he needs a lot of reps.”
Last fall Barrett was on the scout team at Auburn while Willis was leading Roswell High School to the Georgia Class AAAAAAA state championship game.
“These guys are new to doing this,” Lindsey said of the three scholarships who will play in the A-Day Game. “For us I think it's important to evaluate all three of those guys.
“Sean has played and he's played a lot so with his injury, it has been good. He has been able to throw seven-on-seven and I think he has improved, too. I think it's important that he got better in some areas and I think he has really tried to do that and accomplish that in a lot of ways. It's going to be fun watching these three guys in their first taste of a game atmosphere, so to speak. I am looking forward to seeing all three of them.”
Lindsey said he liked what he saw on the field from the offense on Thursday.
“Practice No. 13 today was good, man. I was really pleased with our guys. Our focus and our effort and energy and all that was really good. And we challenged them to do that. Sometimes you come out the day before A-Day or you're getting ready to play a game and the guys aren't as focused and not as into it, I guess. We were in shells today, too. Really like how our guys came out and really had great enthusiasm and focus.
“We had really good execution at times, too, but still trying to get better in that area, but I like where our guys are right now,”?the coach added.
“On offense we are improving in each spot, which is important for this time of year. As long as you can see improvement from day one to day 13, I think that's important. That has been kind of our whole mission for this spring, was ‘hey, let's improve each day and when we're done with spring ball be better in our base offense.’ I think we've done that all the way around. I?am really looking forward to getting out Saturday in front of our fans and letting our players kind of feel that.
“It is a whole new feeling when you get out in that stadium with these fans here at Auburn,” Lindsey added. I know our players are excited about that and we are excited to see them in a game atmosphere.”
In other news and notes:
*Kickoff for A-Day is set for 1 p.m. CDT on Saturday and it will be televised on the SEC Network. Tickets to Saturday’s game are $5 and can be bought in advance at local bookstores.
*Following Saturday’s scrimmage the Tigers will have their final scrimmage of the spring on Tuesday.
*Auburn graduate Tim Cook, CEO?of Apple Computer, spoke to the team prior to practice.
“He was really good,” Lindsey said. “One of the things that was neat, we had another speaker, coach is good about bringing guys in for our players to sit here and listen and kind of motivate those guys. One of the things he mentioned was excellence, you know, expecting excellence in everything they do at Apple. I think that goes to coaching, too.
“We’re on these guys about, ‘hey, no false step or make sure that your hat placement is here or your hands are here,’ because we expect excellence out of those guys and you hold them to that standard. He kind of tied that right in to what we’ve been saying all spring. It was really good to hear his story, being an Auburn guy, a guy from Alabama, you know, that’s done what he’s done is really impressive. He was really, really, really, really fun to listen to.”
*Football All-Americans will be honored in a special halftime ceremony and will be available for autographs following the spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
*A post-game autograph session will be held following the conclusion of A-Day and will last for approximately 45 minutes. Fans will be limited to one item per person.