War Eagle Extra

Chip Lindsey shares positive first impressions of Auburn’s QBs

Auburn quarterback Malik Willis at spring practice Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
Auburn quarterback Malik Willis at spring practice Tuesday, March 7, 2017. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

AUBURN, Ala. Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey isn’t quite as sensitive as his boss about answering questions on the quarterbacks competing for the starting job.

Coach Gus Malzahn hasn’t veered away from generic coach speak when discussing Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham this spring.

“I think he has a chance to be a very good football player,” Malzahn said. “He is coming in to compete for the starting job at quarterback.”

Malzahn hasn’t said much more than a sentence or two at a time about Stidham since the early enrolle arrived on campus in December.

During Lindsey’s first press conference this spring, he was much more forthcoming about the quarterbacks at the top of the depth chart.

“He’s really hard on himself,” Lindsey said of Stidham. “He’s probably as critical as anybody I’ve been around. When we go back to watch tape and I grade the film, he’s a guy who is pretty hard on himself, which is good and bad. You don’t want him to overdo it, but he holds himself accountable, which I think is very good. He has played enough where he’s confident but not arrogant. He knows he has a lot to learn.”

Stidham is “doing great” at throwing drills, which Lindsey is emphasizing this spring to make sure the quarterbacks are where they need to be fundamentally.

“He’s obviously naturally talented,” Lindsey said. “He’s just trying to figure out where to go with the ball all the time. I’d say he’s doing well.”

Lindsey also shared his early impressions of Malik Willis.

Willis, a true freshman early enrollee out of Roswell High School near Atlanta, is a longshot to land the starting job but is making the most out of the opportunity.

“Malik is a very talented guy, he’s smart, he’s trying everything he can to soak in everything,” Lindsey said. “Obviously, you get up there, the speed of the game in college football your first time in, it is going to be an adjustment.”

Lindsey is happy with the way Willis is translating the assistant’s advice into specific improvements on the field.

“Today (March 6) I really thought the game slowed down for him a little bit,” Lindsey said after the team’s fourth spring practice. “He kind of got his feet going with his upper body. Sometimes his feet are going one way, and his body is going another. I really like his progress.”

Lindsey didn’t get quite as specific about redshirt freshman Woody Barrett, a player he said is “still trying to figure out his first spring.” Barrett was the final signee in Auburn’s 2016 class to arrive on campus last year. He didn’t participate in any of the team’s summer workouts and missed time during fall camp with an injury.

While Barrett’s teammates have talked about his confidence and powerful arm, Lindsey just said he’s excited about the quarterback’s “overall progress.”

Lindsey would like to be able to share his scouting report on returning starter Sean White, but it will have to wait with the quarterback still rehabbing his broken forearm.

The offensive coordinator plans on waiting for White to get back on the field before contemplating a final decision on the depth chart, a decision he doesn’t expect to make until the fall.

“I want to see Sean,” Lindsey said. “Sean’s made a lot of plays here. When he’s been healthy, he’s been really effective. I don’t think we’re even close to even discussing anything like that yet (naming a starter).”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra