There was one play in Auburn’s A-Day game that spoke to just how good of a day quarterback Jarrett Stidham was having.
With his Blue team knocking on the goal line before halftime, Stidham handed the ball to running back Kam Martin, who was immediately popped by an incoming Auburn defender. Martin dropped the ball upon impact, leaving it rolling to the left. Stidham quickly grabbed the ball and took off to the end zone, scoring to put his team up 27-6.
“It was offense by accident,” Stidham said. “I’m not going to complain, but at the same time, we can’t put the ball on the ground and turn it over like that. I just tried to make a play.”
Even in the few instances where things went wrong for Stidham, he found ways to make them right.
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Stidham shined in his live debut to the 46,331 fans in Jordan-Hare Stadium. While playing only in the first half of a 37-13 Blue team victory, the former Baylor quarterback checked all the boxes he could in the scrimmage, completing 16 passes on 20 attempts for 267 yards. He also rushed for 17 yards with one touchdown.
“I thought he managed the offense well,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “He protected the football, and that’s what’s really where it starts and the No. 1 thing. It was good for him to get out there in front of a crowd. He hadn’t been out in front of a crowd playing football in a long time.”
The sophomore Stidham showed off his powerful throwing arm in the scrimmage, with 6 of his 16 completed passes going for at least 17 yards. He wasted no time in showing off his ability, using the Blue team’s second play of the game to find Nate Craig-Myers on a 50-yard pass. He later had a 46-yard connection with Darius Slayton and a 33-yard throw to Will Hastings.
Stidham showed he is more than capable of making the downfield throws that some of his fellow quarterbacks simply cannot make. For Stidham, the showing was just a matter of seeing his options and making things happen.
“Some days are better than others,” Stidham said. “We wanted to come out and do what we do best today. I missed a few throws that were wide open. I have to get that fixed, but I thought the first offense did a great job overall.”
While his arm will be the talk among Auburn fans going into the fall, Stidham showed himself more than capable with his legs, too.
Excluding his impromptu rushing touchdown, Stidham also handled himself in the pocket during the scrimmage and wasn’t afraid to bolt when need be. The non-contact jersey he was wearing certainly made the task easier, but his efforts made it apparent he will take off when the situation calls for it.
“He can run, there’s no doubt,” Malzahn said. “Obviously, it’s tough when you’re in the orange jerseys and all that. Really, all the quarterbacks we have have the ability to make some plays with their feet. That’s always a good thing.”
Despite Stidham’s strong showing, Malzahn maintained the quarterback competition is still open.
Shaun White did not participate in the game while he recovers from a throwing shoulder injury, and Malzahn said the junior quarterback will be given the opportunity to compete against Stidham for the starting job. Stidham said after the game that a lot goes into being the guy at quarterback, and it will boil down to his work day in and day out to earn that position.
As far as there being too much hype surrounding Stidham’s performance, Malzahn was quick to dispel the notion.
“Our team knows (how to handle it),” Malzahn said. “When your players play good, I think it’s a good thing. It ain’t a bad thing.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @wareagleextra