UPDATE: Rhett Lashlee reached out to clarify his comments. While he mentions Auburn’s quarterback struggles this season at the end of a lengthy response about the importance of having depth at the position, he wasn’t trying to connect the two. He wasn’t “trying to explain or excuse” anything that happened at Auburn during the discussion.
ORIGINAL STORY: Former Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee stressed the importance of developing depth at the quarterback position in a radio interview Thursday afternoon.
The interview’s focused shifted to revisiting some of the storylines that dominated Auburn’s 2016 season including the offense’s struggles late in the year.
Lashlee was asked how losing a quarterback — or struggling at the position — can “change everything” from the perspective of an offensive coordinator.
The 33 year old’s response started off simply enough with a straightforward explanation of how a team’s starting quarterback is uniquely positioned to determine a team’s success.
As Lashlee’s response continued — it lasted for nearly two minutes — he attempted to explain why college programs struggle when a starting quarterback goes down with an injury.
Lashlee blamed what he called the “microwave society” that forces kids to transfer when they aren’t named a team’s starter.
While Lashlee’s reasoning might make sense in a broader context, it doesn’t apply to the situation Auburn went through the past two seasons as the assistant seems to indicate.
Malzahn and Lashlee have benefitted from transfers throughout their tenure on the Plains (Nick Marshall) while not a single quarterback they recruited since returning to the school in 2013 has left the program.
Graduating senior Jeremy Johnson spent two years patiently waiting his turn on the bench behind Marshall before getting his chance at the starting job.
There’s an extra layer of irony to the comments given Lashlee himself landed the highest profile transfer in the 2017 class Jarrett Stidham.
Stidham is going to compete with Sean White, John Franklin III and Woody Barrett for the starting job this spring. White and Franklin have already pledged to stay on the Plains regardless of how the competition ends up.
Lashlee’s reponse is a strange summation of Auburn’s quarterback issues given what transpired is the complete opposite of what he describes.
See for yourself with a full transcription of Lashlee’s answer...
Question: When you lose a quarterback or are struggling at the quarterback position, from offensive coordinator perspective it seems like it can change everything…
Lashlee: “The guys a starter for a reason, it doesn’t matter if you are in the pros or the SEC or really anywhere in college football especially — everything is driven by your quarterback. The ones that have it have good teams. The ones that don’t, don’t. If you look at the NFL every year who is in the playoffs there’s a reason the same teams like the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers, etc. are always around because they have the quarterbacks.”
“You build everything you can around your starting quarterback and yeah you prepare your backup, he’s one play away and every other position is the same, but not every other position has so much on their plate. Not every other position has the exposure.”
“You can say what you want, but if your starting quarterback goes down especially when you are playing well, and your in a rhythm, it can really disrupt everything. It’s hard on a backup quarterback to be ready, but practice all week and have the reps then never know when he’s going to get a shot.”
“Now a days because we live in such a microwave society, everybody wants it now. Kids are developed that hey I have to got to have instant success now instead of enduring and trying to overcome it I just got to move. You see so many guys transferring that it’s hard to keep multiple quarterbacks on a roster that can all win at a high level because if one is starting only one guy can play at quarterback. That backup or third string guy instead of taking time to develop or wait his time like he used to, that guy is just going to hear the grass is greener over here and I’m going to transfer. It’s hard to have the depth at the position you really need to have. I know Arkansas experienced that a little bit and we obviously did down the stretch and I think everybody saw the difference it made.”