What had long been expected has become the reality today at Auburn. Former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham has officially been named the starting quarterback at Auburn.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn made the official announcement Monday. Sean White will be Auburn’s backup quarterback heading into the 2017 season. The quarterback battle had been one of the biggest topics of conversation for Auburn this summer, with Stidham expected to give White a good run to be the starter in the fall.
Stidham announced a transfer to Auburn from Baylor in December after initially announcing his decision to transfer out of the Baylor program in July 2016 amid controversy at the program. Stidham was granted a release from his scholarship by Baylor but was blocked from transferring to another Big 12 program. In addition to Auburn, other SEC schools that were reportedly jumping in the recruiting mix for his services included Florida and Texas A&M.
At Auburn, Stidham steps into a role that could play vital to Auburn’s chances and hopes of giving Alabama a push for the SEC West Division. Stidham will share the same backfield as one of the top running backs in the SEC, Kamryn Pettway. Auburn’s offense likely upgraded at the quarterback position by a significant margin.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.
“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”
It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.
In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.
Auburn defensive end Byron Cowart was rushed in for an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn announced today.
There were early reports suggesting Cowart, a sophomore, will be out for the remainder of the season as a result of the surgery, but Malzahn did not comment on the status for the defensive end for the long-term.
Cowart has recorded six tackles and forced a fumble in backup duty off the Auburn bench this season. Cowart was one of the nation’s top-rated players out of high school.
While updating the status of Cowart, Malzahn also said there is no decision on the availability of quarterback Sean White for this weekend’s game against Alabama A&M. White has been banged up and passed for just 27 yards last week in a road loss at Georgia. Malzahn has also ruled out running back Kamryn Pettway for this weekend’s game. Of course, as rough as Auburn’s offense has looked, the Tigers should still manage to score a victory this week against Alabama A&M.
Next week against Alabama, however, should be a much different story. The Crimson Tide have already locked up the SEC West Division crown and are heading to Atlanta and can still probably afford one loss without jeopardizing their playoff chances, but Alabama will look to finish the regular season on a strong note against rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Some schools take spring game attendance more seriously than others. Down south, there is great pride taken in a huge turnout for a spring football game or scrimmage, but Auburn appears to be stuck in a downward trend. For the third straight spring, Auburn saw its spring game attendance decline, although the Tigers still managed to bring out a crowd over 45,000 on Saturday.
Auburn’s official spring game attendance was reported at 45,723 by the university, which currently ranks second among the early SEC spring attendance numbers behind the estimated 46,000 that showed up in Gainesville for Florida’s spring game Friday night. With numbers still coming in from this weekend’s spring action, Auburn should be expected to sit fourth in the nation in spring game attendance after two weekends in April. Clemson currently leads the nation with an estimated 50,000 arriving for spring football on Saturday. Florida State trailed by a handful of fans with 49,913 showing up for a spring game in Orlando.
Auburn set a school record with 83,401 fans packing Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first spring game under new head coach Gus Malzahn in 2013. The following season was still impressive with 70,645 fans. Last year saw 62,142 fans attend the spring game. Nobody should read too much into spring game attendance figures, although it is interesting to see the trend developing at Auburn. The spring game attendance numbers are still impressive for Auburn compared to many around the nation, and this year’s total still ranks sixth in school history, but some might look at the annual spring numbers and suggest there is a declining interest or declining support for the program under Malzahn.
This hardly means Malzahn is on a hot seat, but last year was a massive disappointment for the program considering some of the preseason hype for the program. Pouring salt on the wound, Alabama was the team that was crowned national champion of the College Football Playoff. This appears to be a critical season for Malzahn and Auburn.
Assistant coaches continue to swap jobs as spring football draws closer and closer, and now it seems the fun is starting to wind down. Auburn made a couple of changes to its staff this week with off-the-sideline roles.
First, according to AL.com, Auburn has added Devin Ducote as a defensive analyst. The former Stephen F. Austin linebacker most recently was on LSU’s football staff as a graduate assistant. With his new tiger stripes on, Ducote will fill the role previously held by Blake Gideon, who has since moved to South Carolina with former Auburn defensive coordinator (and now South Carolina head coach) Will Muschamp.
Football Scoop also reported another staff adjustment. Video coordinator Brent Thomas is no longer with the team, the outlet reports. Thomas had been a part of the Auburn staff since 2007 following jobs with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL and the Tennessee Volunteers before that. Thomas is the 10th member of the football staff to leave Auburn this offseason, leaving head coach Gus Malzahn with a good amount of jobs to replace this year. That tends to happen when an assistant or coordinator has an opportunity to take a head coaching job elsewhere, as Muschamp did. That more often than not leads to multiple openings as another assistant or two or more will leave the program as well to follow the new head coach.
There is no information on where Thomas will be heading next.