Jason Campbell was Auburn football’s poised leader during one of the Tigers’ most special seasons in program history.
The 2004 SEC Offensive Player of the Year always wants his former team to have success, but not necessarily by taking the same path.
Campbell, who recently joined Auburn’s expanded pregame show, sees physical similarities between this year’s squad and the beloved group that reeled off 13 straight wins. The team has the potential to do great things.
“Yes they have the ability,” Campbell told SEC Country this week. “But I want them to be their own identity. I want them to make 2017 a special year for them. Whether it’s an undefeated season or a one-loss season, you just do the best that you can do and let everything fall into place. There’s no pressure, just play ball.”
That’s why Campbell didn’t worry after a debatably lackluster performance from new quarterback Jarrett Stidham in Week 1. Campbell remembers being a prized recruit out of Taylorsville (Miss.) High School and stressing about his achievements.
Yet when he arrived on the Plains as a freshman and finished an SEC Champion in ’04, he’d learned that greatness came with time.
“It’s just, ‘Let me do the best I can do, learn as quick as possible and just do the best I can do. When it’s time for me to start taking over games I’ll be ready to take over the games,'” Campbell said. “The best thing to do for Stidham is just to have fun, enjoy it.”
It wasn’t surprising in the slightest that Auburn’s defense ran out of the tunnel and looked spectacular to Campbell, either. In his experience it “always” takes longer for the offense to come together.
Campbell also feels for Stidham. The former quarterback is quick to point out that Chip Lindsey made the jump to the SEC from Arizona State while Stidham skipped over from the Big 12. The duo, no matter how smooth August was, is still feeling each other out.
“It’s going to take Stidham a little bit of time to get his groove going,” Campbell said. “It’s not like hopping on a bicycle, you know. Playing football is all about rhythm and game experience and timing. It’s going to take a little bit of time, not just for him, but for the whole offense.”
Stidham will have some help when running back Kamryn Pettway and wide receiver Kyle Davis return from suspension against Clemson. He also understands Auburn’s bland offense in Week 1. Still, it doesn’t mean things will be perfect — even as much as everyone wants them to be against Dabo Swinney’s top-ranked Tigers.
“You have to understand if you play the quarterback position there’s going to be turnovers sometimes, there’s going to be mistakes,” Campbell said. “There’s going to be things you want back, but in the heat of the game don’t worry about it. … It’s all about confidence.”
Campbell makes a point Auburn fans will appreciate, too. Though the Tigers haven’t beaten Georgia or Alabama in three years, even the Tide “wasn’t all that hot” in its 24-7 victory against Florida State.
Even the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide dealt with miscues and injuries.
Stidham and Co.’s time will come, Campbell said. The most important thing is for the starter to keep to his character.
An Auburn quarterback , he said, “puts pressure on himself to feel like he has to win games. There will come a time when you can win the games you know, and that comes with reps and timing. You just play the game within the game. Let everything come to you. When it’s time for you to take over games, you’ll take over games.
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