AUBURN, Ala. — If Jarrett Stidham had any nervousness at the beginning of his first game week for Auburn football, he didn’t show a single bit of it Sunday night.
The Auburn quarterback joked with reporters, walked to the podium humming a loud tune and acted like he was drumming the microphones at the podium for his news conference.
One might expect the former Baylor quarterback to be nervous before his first competitive game in 22 months. But Stidham, Auburn’s new QB1, was loose and ready to have some fun heading into a season opener against Georgia Southern.
“Finally,” Stidham began with an exaggerated groan Sunday night. “I know just for me personally, it’s been a long time. … For the team, we’ve been working hard since January, right after the bowl game. It’s finally here, and everybody’s excited and kind of jacked up and ready to go.”
After his transfer from Baylor last year, he spent football season mostly working on his own, not lining up for any JUCO games in order to preserve his eligibility. When he announced he would transfer to Auburn last December, he began nine months of off-and-on practicing with and against the Tigers.
That journey is over now for Stidham. On Sunday, he was able to fully focus on facing one opponent — Georgia Southern. For Stidham, the transition was a long-awaited one.
“It’s a lot of fun, because now you’re actually looking at a specific defense,” Stidham said. “You’re not going against the same one every single day for the last three or four weeks. So it’s nice to start looking at another team, kind of break down what they do, trying to execute against it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, who will also make his debut in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday evening, said the easy-going Stidham who faced reporters Sunday night was the same one he’s seen all year long — even when he wasn’t the official starter.
“His attitude and energy has been the same,” Lindsey said. “He hasn’t all of the sudden when we named him the starter try to re-invent himself. I think that is important to be who you are. … If you try to be somebody you are not, I think people see that.
“I think good leaders are going to be who they are, and I think Jarrett has done a really good job of handling everything that has gone with that. I am looking forward to him playing well this weekend.”
Part of Stidham being Stidham will shine through this Friday night, when the Tigers are in their hotel rooms in Montgomery.
In order to keep his nerve calm the night before games, Stidham said he watches 80s and 90s movies from a suggestion list he picked up from coaches. (His favorite two so far are Road House and Tommy Boy.)
“I actually have an entire list of movies, of like 40 different movies that I’m going to kind of pick and choose from to watch,” Stidham said. “So, I’ll bring my Apple TV and set it up and that’s just kind of how I get a little bit of peace of mind right before I go to sleep. That’s kind of my thing.”
Stidham said he watched the movies on his iPad by himself at Baylor, but he’s welcome to inviting his new teammates into his room Friday night.
Whether they come over for “movie night” Friday or not, Stidham says all the Tigers on the offensive side of the ball are eager for showtime Saturday.
“I think everybody’s ready,” Stidham said. “We’ve been going against each other even all the way back to spring ball. We’re excited to get out there against another team and see what we can do.”
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