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Is Woody Barrett the Next Jalen Hurts?

By on March 24th, 2017 in Football, News 12 Comments »
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Auburn quarterback Woody Barrett stretches during spring practice. (photo: Julie Bennett/al.com)

If one listens to sports talk radio in the South, being subjected to Alabama football is an everyday occurrence because local radio stations are all Alabama affiliates and/or carriers of the Paul Finebaum show. It was the aforementioned show that caught my ear this time last year. Alabama was going to be breaking in yet another starting quarterback, and the question was, “Who would replace the graduated Jake Coker?” It seemed like every day on the radio show, beat reporters gave the pecking order of the three competitors. Still, it was Jalen Hurts who continued to make the conversation. That was awfully interesting for a true freshman that didn’t, in any way, fit the mold of the other players. 

Just weeks before the Alabama spring game, AL.com reported on the projected depth chart, and quarterbacks were the very first position group referenced. Writers had this to say on the most important position on the team: “With Jake Coker out of eligibility, Alabama again has to break in a new quarterback in 2016. The top two options appear to be Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett. Bateman, a rising junior, should be the early favorite after finishing second to Coker and even starting the Ole Miss game over the fifth-year senior. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin likes Bateman, and the Utah native should be a good fit in his offense. Barnett, who redshirted this year, is the highly-regarded former five-star recruit. Barnett had to put on weight after arriving in Tuscaloosa, but coaches like him, and he’s viewed as the future of the offense. The wild card is David Cornwell, who looked to be a serious contender heading into fall camp, but fell off the pack and finished behind Coker, Bateman and Alec Morris.”

It is certainly interesting to read the thoughts of the writers plugged into the program. Not mentioned was Jalen Hurts, who, as everyone knows, showed out during the spring game when the other competitors were less than impressive. In the weeks that followed, the same conversations continued. Hurts never left his spot as the dark-horse while the others seemed to fall away. Eventually, Hurts was named starter and went on to be the SEC Offensive Player of the year.

Auburn has an interesting situation shaping up in its quarterback race. Most observers believe that the talented former five-star recruit, Jarrett Stidham, will become Auburn’s next starter with oft-injured Sean White being the backup. 

Like Alabama’s Bateman, White has started games. He has been serviceable and even decent for Auburn. While fans admire his fight and desire to be the man at quarterback, most would agree that they have seen the full scope of White’s ability: a player with a limited arm and limited play-making ability player with good command of an oft-hamstrung offense.

Stidham may be likened to Barnett’s measurables and ability and has game film from his time at Baylor. Still, one must cautiously project Big 12 success to the SEC, especially with such a small sample size. 

Then there is Woody Barrett…


Because he is a freshman and hasn’t started a college game, he is automatically dismissed, but he shouldn’t be. It wasn’t so long ago that our own AubTigerman wrote about Barrett as The Forgotten Man and caused some real conversation among our readers. That was before practice began, and not much has changed since. That’s exactly the point.

Not only has a pecking order not been named, but both coach Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey have said that a starter won’t be named in the spring. There are only two people this benefits. One is White, still trying to make a comeback from a broken arm in spite of competing against Stidham and his far better arm and physical ability. The other person is Barrett .

It appears the true competition is between Stidham and Barrett. 

Lindsey, himself, is part of the equation. Rhett Lashlee left after a second consecutive lackluster offensive year, and another bad year will likely mean a house cleaning on the offensive side. Lindsey knows that. He also knows what he has with White. Does he want to go that route or trust another?

While Stidham has the arm talent to be an Air Raid quarterback, Auburn’s receivers have been less than spectacular the past few years. If this continues, Stidham could become irrelevant.

Barrett is the closest thing to a Malzahn-preferred dual threat quarterback.  While Auburn’s road-grading run game might factor well into a Stidham-led offense, it is picture perfect for one led by Barrett. Because of that, as long as Barrett remains in the fight while the rest rearrange the deck chairs, he remains a legitimate contender to be the next Jalen Hurts. 

12 Comments

  1. neonbets says:

    Thanks for a good write-up, Zach.

    And there’s Malik Willis. He’s only played QB for a year and a half. Coaches rave about his arm-strength and he gets high marks for maturity. Probably going to be red-shirted, but I keep hearing his name as a guy who has really impressed during the Spring practices.

  2. audude audude says:

    Good write up Zach. Get chills from “the rest rearrange the deck chairs ” quote. Hopefully we don’t go down that path this year. They are all working hard to avoid that reference.

    WDE

  3. zotus zotus says:

    RE: “… Auburn’s receivers have been less than spectacular the past few years.”

    Good point. However, most Auburn folks I know would put it this way:

    “Auburn’s offense has less than spectacular the past 9 or 10 years.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    P.S. IMHO, Auburn’s offensive woes, over the last decade or so, cannot be put on the Jimmys & Joes.

    Even in the so-called good times the Auburn offense has been less than the sum of its parts. Much less in some years.

    Auburn’s systemic problem rests not with the Jimmys & Joes wearing the navy blue jerseys.

    Auburn’s systemic problem rests with the Jays & Malzahns.

    A couple decent seasons every 10 years or so only amplifies that fact.

  4. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    Hurts was put onto the field when there was an immediate sense of urgency by Saban to avoid losing a game. Malzahn has not been the guy to pull a QB from a game when performance was lacking. JJ played through horrible performances and White through injury… I just hope whoever they put in at QB can play the position and lead the team. It doesn’t sound like a lot to ask for but after living through the JJ era I’m not overthinking this position battle.

  5. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    Going to an air raid type of attack would be a huge mistake IMO and I hope they don't go that route if Stidham is the QB. We just need someone that can stretch the field, the way White really couldn't. Our running backs will be as responsible for the success of the QB as the QB themselves. With Pettway blowing holes through the defense, they will be ripe for the picking on non traditional throwing downs.

    What is most concerning to me is the use of the receiving corps. We have more talent there than I can ever remember in my 50 years. It HAS to be developed and properly utilized. I was so disheartened when I heard last year that our WR's were doing drills where they would stop after running their routes. I have seen that in games and screamed at my TV in frustration that the WR's never seemed to adjust their routes to their coverage or keep running at the end of their route. This of course made them VERY EASY to cover unless White found one of them wide open. That also limits our YAC performance as well.

    With JFIII transitioning to WR, I REALLY want them to find a way to get the ball to him in space where he can catch the ball on the move. If we can, he may be a Heisman candidate, because nobody is catching him once he's on the move.

    Regardless, this IS a make or break year for Lindsey and Malzahn, because this offense has all the tools to wreak havoc in the SEC. All that is missing is getting the personnel in the right spot and dialing up the right playcall to do the most damage. I am normally a pretty forgiving person, but I don't see Malzahn as having any excuses left for not dominating opposing defenses this fall.

    • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

      Col., I concur. Going to a true “air raid” offense isn’t what this team is about. Auburn needs to have that “threat” to keep opposing defenses honest and, of course, have the occasional big plays, but the bread-and-butter of this offense is the running game. I’m really hopeful that having JFIII as a WR can pay dividends and, as you state, getting him the ball in space can be huge given his speed and play-making ability. While it is way too early to be overly excited, I’m still leaning toward the “this can be a big year” side of the equation.

      WAR EAGLE!!

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Believe your spot on Colonel – passing attack that stretches the field and compliments the running game.

  6. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    I am now living in Birmingham and it is all about Alabama 24/7. The favoritism is very evident on the sports channels in this town. Of course, Auburn and Alabama need the rivalry to make the cash for the schools. I know what it is like to be for a fan of both schools and I decided on Auburn because I just felt more at home on the campus.

    I do hope that Woody Barrett keeps his ego in check and sticks around to pay his dues. He will most likely be the next starting QB after Jarrett Stidham. I really feel that Jarrett Stidham will do well at Auburn and he is my pick to start in the Fall.

  7. AUNation AUNation says:

    B. Marcello said that Woody has been floundering during the Spring and had at least one pick and a fumble in the scrimmage. Said if the season started today that Woody wouldn’t even be third string. Hate that, hope he settles in because if he falls behind true fresh Malik (who apparently has been a nice suprise in Spring), then I see a transfer in his future.

  8. sparkey sparkey says:

    Woody Barrett will never make it as an SEC quarterback. Again, I keep trying to tell people that you either have accuracy or you don’t. I’m not sure why people insist you can coach accuracy into a quarterback, but it really is a talent just like anything else. On top of that, Gus and Rhett got to him already. They have ruined quarterback after quarterback. I’m wondering how UCONN will look this season. I doubt their quarterbacks have as much trouble as ours did while Rhett was here. If that’s the case, that leaves one common factor in the problem with our quarterbacks we recruit out of high school…

    It certainly grabs my attention. I’m done with Gus and his “Bus.” He lucked right into Stidham this time. I hope it works out, but if it doesn’t, we at least are rid of this man that belongs in Arkansas and not Auburn.

  9. […] freshman quarterback Malik Willis. It’s ironic that the week Woody Barrett was featured as The Next Jalen Hurts saw Willis emerging from obscurity following Auburn’s first scrimmage last […]