As the nation eagerly looks forward to the July 4th holiday, college football fan bases around the country inch one step closer to their respective teams teeing it up for opening weekend. I’d like to focus my particular attention on the Auburn Tigers. Optimism reigns supreme on the plains as many pieces to a complicated puzzle appear to be in place. After successful recruiting seasons, there is plenty of talent to make a serious run at a possible SEC championship.
Much of the aforementioned optimism stems from the spring semester transfer of former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham, a talented signal caller that was a highly sought of coming out of Stephenville, Texas, where Rivals had him tapped as the sixth ranked dual threat quarterback coming out of high school. For reasons that I will not venture into, he transferred to McLennan Community College, where he did not play. Building a rapport with former Tiger offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, Stidham announced he would be attending Auburn University, much to the delight of War Eagle fans around the country.
Stidham will bring much needed stability, talent and leadership to a position that was mired in mediocrity and injuries last fall. Gus Malzahn has indicated that the quarterback position will still be an ongoing evaluation going into the fall, but from this eye and almost everyone else that follows Auburn football, this position battle is all but over. There is only one direction to go as Auburn finished 112th nationally in passing offense last season.
Jarrett will have the services of a new offensive coordinator, Chip Lindsey, who recently served in the same capacity at Arizona State University where he led the Sun Devils to 33 points a game and nearly 400 yards of offense per game. Lindsey is expected to add variety to a stagnant passing game, while balancing the same run concepts that Malzahn has employed during his tenure as an offensive play caller and head coach.
If the spring game was any indication, Stidham and the Tigers are well on their way to a very balanced offense behind very solid run game and offensive line. Throw in a talented, but young, wide receiver corps that appeared to make tremendous strides during the spring and Jordan Hare will be rocking early in the season.
In my eyes, this is the biggest addition to any team in the SEC for the 2017 season. War Eagle now has another difference maker at the most important position in the game. Stidham has the ability to elevate Auburn as a national title contender. Of course there will be challenges along the way, many of which I will get into as we move closer to the the start of fall camp, but none of which cannot be overcome.
When Auburn has had quality quarterback play, they have found themselves squarely in the hunt for the SEC title and beyond. With the talented Stidham, under center, optimism is oozing on the plains once again. WAR EAGLE!