Like everybody else in college football, Auburn is desperately looking for a difference maker at the quarterback position.
Championships are not won without steady quarterback play, not in the SEC or on the national stage. Auburn lacked consistent quarterback play last season, and they do not want a repeat performance next fall. The War Eagles and coach Gus Malzahn want to be more than an 8-5 football team. Auburn doesn’t want to be the bridesmaid in the SEC West again this year. What the Tigers want is some SEC redemption, and they need a leader at quarterback to unseat Alabama in the division and in the SEC.
Auburn just may have found their so called secret weapon, too. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham could be the answer for Auburn at the quarterback slot.
Stidham is more than a game manager. He is good for more than just handing the ball off and getting out of the way. Stidham is a Blue Chip talent with all kinds of stars. He could be off the chart for Auburn.
He is a home run hitter at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. Stidham has savvy and touch. He has some field general skills. Stidham can stand in the pocket and deliver the ball. Stidham is a touchdown machine getting ready to happen.
As a sophomore at Baylor two years ago, Stidham passed for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns in limited playing time. He connected on 68 percent of his passes. Now a redshirt junior, Stidham is looking for a new team and a new challenge.
Auburn is it for the Stephenville, Texas native. Stidham’s college football career is getting ready to take off. He is what Auburn did not have last year. Stidham brings athleticism and a big arm to the War Eagle offense.
Stidham can throw a 70yard spiral with his eyes closed. He is ready to take Auburn to the next level – the SEC championship. Stidham has the smarts, the arm and the nerve.
He will be in a battle with redshirt junior Sean White for starting duty at quarterback next fall for the Tigers. White passed for 1,644 yards and nine touchdowns for Auburn last year.
White played admirably despite a shoulder ailment. He is healthy now and is ready to compete for playing time with Stidham. Either player is an inticing option for Auburn. The Tigers can win with either player, but which player brings the most to the field for Auburn?
It looks as though that playmaker is Stidham, the former Texas school boy football superstar. He has all the intangibles, plus the golden arm. Stidham is ready to inject some life into the War Eagle offense.
Surrounding either Stidham or White will be a very talented Auburn attack with junior running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, along with a swift corps of receivers with senior Tony Stevens, and juniors Ryan Davis, Eli Stove and Kyle Davis.
The Tigers also return more speed with sophomore split ends Darius Slayton and Nate Craig-Myers. Auburn has some brawn on this offensive unit, too, with linemen Darius James (6foot-4, 320 pounds), Marquel Harrell (6-foot-3, 318 pounds), Austin Golson (6foot-5, 314 pounds), Braden Smith (6-foot-6, 300 pounds) and Prince Tega Wanogho (6-foot-8, 282 pounds).
All that the Tigers need now is a championshipcaliber quarterback. That person is very likely either Sean White or Jarrett Stidham. That will be decided in the coming months.
If you have seen one Tiger you haven’t seen them all. Auburn will open up the 2017 football season at home on Sept. 2 against Georgia Southern. One week later, Auburn will travel to Clemson for a game with the defending national champions on Sept. 9. It will be interesting.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer