It took exactly two plays for Auburn’s Blue team to show off its firepower in the Tigers’ A-Day scrimmage.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s second pass of the afternoon was a beauty, as he lofted it to wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers, who took the pass for 50 yards. The play proved to be only the first of many highlights for Auburn’s first-team squad in its annual spring scrimmage.
The Blue team topped the White team 37-13 thanks in large part to the play of Stidham. Stidham showed off his big arm repeatedly in his first public showing for the Auburn fans, throwing for 267 yards in the game.
“I think it was a very good day,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “The weather was great, and our kids got a chance to go out in front of a crowd and play football. Really, what stood out to me was our No. 1 defense. The No. 1 offense, I thought, had a very good day, too. We had a chance to let everybody play and do their thing.”
Stidham led the Blue team’s first drive down the field in no time, in large part thanks to a pass to Nate Craig-Myers which went for 50 yards. Kerryon Johnson finished the drive off right, breaking one tackle and changing direction on a 4-yard touchdown run to put the Blue team up 7-3 with 8:00 left in the opening quarter.
Johnson ultimately left the game in the first half with an ankle injury that Malzahn confirmed was not serious.
After a Daniel Carlson field goal on the second drive, the Blue team got rolling again on its third possession. Stidham led the Blue team on a four-play, 75-yard drive which included a pass to Darius Slayton for a 46-yard pickup. Running back C.J. Tolbert got the call on the next play, taking it in for a 9-yard score to give his side a 17-3 lead.
Up 20-6 with the clock ticking down before halftime, the Blue team put together one last scoring drive before hitting the locker room.
The Blue team took over on its own 46 and quickly made its way down the field thanks again to another long Stidham pass, this one to Craig-Myers for 34 yards. Stidham inadvertently finished the drive with a touchdown, as his hand-off to Kam Martin was fumbled. Stidham grabbed the ball and reached the end zone to push the score to 27-6.
Malik Miller tacked on the Blue team’s last touchdown to end the third quarter and did so with style. Miller took the carry from the 15-yard line and bulldozed his way past a pair of White team defenders, building a 34-6 lead.
The White team couldn’t keep up with its counterparts, but there were a few standout efforts from the backups. Quarterback Malik Willis split time between both teams and threw for 157 yards, including impressive throws of 28 yards to Ryan Davis and 37 yards to Craig-Myers.
“For a guy who should still be in high school, I think he’s just really doing some things to really impress our coaches,” Malzahn said of Willis. “He managed the offense. I know he took a sack or two today, but that’s from being young.”
On the other side of the ball, defensive back Nick Ruffin was all over the field for the White squad and led both sides with 11 tackles.
Auburn senior kicker Daniel Carlson got plenty of work in during the scrimmage. Playing for both teams, he went 5-for-5 on field goal attempts with a long of 55 yards. He also handled the punting duties for each team and ended the day with six punts.
Malzahn said the team would practice Tuesday only in helmets as a chance to make corrections, but with the end of Saturday’s scrimmage, the Tigers’ spring session is essentially in the books.
“Overall, I thought it was a very successful day,” Malzahn said. “It really capped off our main work for spring.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @wareagleextra