JARRETT STIDHAM (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Dye-Gest Column: Auburn Football A-Day Observations And Thoughts

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn football team in this edition of his Dye-Gest column.

Jarrett Stidham (above) threw for 267 yards in Auburn's A-Day game.

There was a great crowd at Auburn's spring football game and most of them came to see one thing, and they had to be smiling when they left because I was.

Jarrett Stidham might have made some mistakes, but the much-discussed transfer from Baylor did everything in the A-Day game that you could ask a quarterback to do. Of course, he was playing with a no-contact jersey on and going against the second defense, and that makes a difference, but it is still obvious he is playing quarterback like a grown man.

He was in total control on the field. I like his body language. I?like the way his teammates respond to him. I don’t know what he could have done that would have been any more impressive other than maybe hitting on an overthrown pass. I don’t know how many receivers he hit on the numbers, but it was a lot, even on the deep throws.

I also thought that Malik Willis left nothing to be desired in how he played in the scrimmage considering he is just a freshman. He made a lot of good throws and good decisions. One that stood out to me is that he read his keys down the field and saw that nothing was open and then immediately hit a back on a flat route. He did the same thing on a late throw over the middle with pressure in his face.

Overall, on both offense and defense, there should be a lot of information on film the coaches will be able to get out of their spring game.

I was also impressed with the way the receivers stepped up and made plays during the course of the game. Players like Nate Craig, Marquis McClain, the little guy Will Hastings and Darius Slayton got may attention.

Although it didn’t show on Saturday the big tight end from Chicago, Sal Cannella, had a good spring. He made one catch in the A-Day game and I believe he was open when a ball was overthrown. I haven’t seen him drop a pass this spring. He is a big target who is going to be a physical guy around the line of scrimmage blocking for the running game.

Jalen Harris, the returning starter at tight end, has made strides this spring and hopefully that will continue. He made a couple of catches on Saturday. He is a much better blocker than he was and I think he will respond to being involved in the passing game.

I think the offense is showing a lot of promise. One of the keys for the Tigers to take a big step forward in the fall is to become more productive in the red zone so there will be fewer field goals and more touchdowns.

I think the defense, particularly the first group, did some good things in the spring and the A-Day game, especially against the running game.

Looking ahead to the fall, this team has the potential to be much improved compared to the 2016 season. I think the quarterback situation is very promising. We know what Sean White can do when he is healthy and I am very impressed with Stidham and Willis.

Now I think the big question is how the chemistry develops. If the players are willing to put forth extra effort and be unselfish by putting the team first, the 2017 Tigers are going to be contenders in the SEC. If they don’t do that they will end up with a bad taste in their mouths at the end of the season because they will have lost some games they could have won.

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