AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football has been through nearly two weeks of preseason camp and the Tigers’ home opener against Georgia Southern is three weeks away.
That means Gus Malzahn is gearing up to decide on starters, including a quarterback for 2017.
“Well, like I said, we’re going to have personnel meetings after this second scrimmage,” Malzahn said on Saturday. “I’m not ready to put a timeline, but kind of common sense is you’d like to start putting the pieces of the puzzle.”
The depth of the quarterback unit, perhaps even more so than any individual performance or camp, continues to stand out to the fifth year head coach more than anything.
A source told SEC Country that in Saturday’s scrimmage all three scholarship QB’s completed at least a touchdown score. Stidham tossed a long bomb (99 yards) to Darius Slayton while Sean White threw a 60+ score to Nate Craig-Myers.
Then, as has been the case all spring and fall, Malik Willis wasn’t far behind. The freshman threw two touchdown scores. First a 99-yarder to Marquis McClain, and then a short pass to Noah Igbinoghene.
Malzahn admits Stidham has shined, but refuses to overlook White or Willis.
“Yeah, he’s (Stidham) done a lot of good things. He’s done a lot of good things,” Malzahn said. “He’s a talented young man and you know, he’s probably carried it on in fall. I’ve been very impressed with Sean White. I think if you ask Chip [Lindsey] Sean’s like a coach on the field. He knows the offense inside and out.”
The most complimentary praise of the day involved Willis. Malzahn even went one step further, admitting that if the freshman were competing during any other year against players with less experience, Willis would likely see the field in his initial year.
“And Malik Willis, he’s a guy that I’m real happy with,” Malzahn said. “I mean he’s been throwing the ball very well. He can extend plays, he can really run and he’s one of our best athletes on our team.”
Freshman QB Malik Willis has received rave reviews from Gus Malzahn and Auburn players since he arrived on campus. (Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country).
Willis’ presence on campus this spring has helped the Atlanta, Ga., native make significant jumps. Lindsey, according to Malzahn, challenged the youngest of the quarterbacks after the spring game and he’s responded. The time around the complex has also allowed the coaching staff to see some of the intangibles they’ve been looking for.
“Playing quarterback is not just all about going out there and playing,” Malzahn said. “There’s a lot more to playing quarterback from a leadership standpoint, setting the tone for practice and everything, studying extra — more than other positions.”
All of that is leading Malzahn to make a declaration he can’t reiterate enough.
“Right now I’d just say the depth of our quarterback position has just really been confirmed,” Malzahn said. “I know Chip would say the same thing.”
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