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Jarrett Stidham: A Scouting Report

By on December 13th, 2016 in Football, News 12 Comments »
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USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend, Auburn received a commitment from the nation’s number one JUCO player, quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who had been trending toward the Tigers for some time. Stidham will come to the Plains with a full three years of eligibility. He will compete with Sean White and Woody Barrett for the starting job, leaving John Franklin III with some hard decisions to make.

He comes to Auburn having started three games for the Baylor Bears after No. 1 QB Seth Russell suffered a season-ending neck injury. The Bears won two of those three, dropping the game to the Oklahoma Sooners 44–34. Stidham’s two interceptions were keys to the loss. However, the freshman chipped a bone in his ankle and continued to play, and a hand injury the next week sidelined him for the rest of the year. All told, Stidham finished the year with 1,265 yards, 12 TD’s, and two INT’s. He added another 76 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. 

A few points before breaking down his film. First and foremost, Stidham was a perfect fit for the Art Briles offensive system. He left an identical system in Stephenville, Texas, the school where Art Briles coached from 1988–1999. Additionally, Art Briles is likely the best system-oriented offensive mind in the country. and his son Kendal is a close second.

Despite player turnover, they were able to have an offense that was tops in college football. The system requires elite players at the skill positions while sacrificing interior line play by spreading the field and attacking the edges. There is a nearly 50-percent focus on screens and swing passes and heavy emphasis on run/pass options, all of which feed into a vertical passing attack. 

The system is similar to the Gus Malzahn offense, but is not exactly the same. Where a heavy between-the-tackles rusher in combination to an edge-attacking QB and/or sweep player sets up the downfield pass, the Art Briles system operates in the opposite fashion. In addition, Briles was able to recruit and develop receivers on a consistent basis while relying on the quarterback to make options on the fly and execute properly. In Malzahn’s defense, the Big 12 does not field defenses as good as the worst SEC teams. The question becomes, will Stidham fit in the Hurry Up No Huddle offense?

 

Jarrett Stidham measures in at 6′ 3,” and his weight is reported from 190–210 pounds. He is listed as running a 4.6 40-yard dash. His highlights  show obvious differences between his sideline-to-sideline and straight line speeds and also show a player whose scrambling abilities require three to five steps to build speed as opposed to a quick three step drop, plant, and explode on a dedicated draw. He doesn’t have elusiveness in the open field, but he does have the ability to break tackles. The further down the field he is, the better his ability to break tackles. Conversely, he struggles with contact at the line of scrimmage.

He has superb pocket presence, his footwork is good. Even as a high school recruit, his three-and five-step drops were crisp, and he doesn’t have nervous feet or show signs of nervousness such as patting the football. He does a fair job at looking off defenders, but his ball security on zone read and in the open field will be a concern. While he won’t be asked to run the pitch option, he frequently made bad reads but was bailed out by his athleticism. 

Stidham has two throwing motions, one for window throws and one for touch passes. The former is reminiscent of Cam Newton, and is more rail-like that appears to be a pushing motion instead of an over-the-top rotation. This is mainly because of his long arms that allow him to add zip on the ball without having to add rotational force. His ball placement for touch passes is a deliberate act, a windmill motion that takes too long to develop. This makes many of his throws to open receivers fall slightly behind the receiver and into jeopardy. With SEC speed on the other side of the ball, he will have to tighten this throwing motion and throw ahead of the open receiver.

While many of his highlights show superior decision making, one must keep in mind that many of these highlights are less about his in-play decision making and more about with the window dressing and movement of defenders. Still, he has to exploit the matchup, which he does well. He excels against zone defenses, but his chances of facing a zone defense in a down-hill, HUNH offense are slim. He will have to make timing throws, of which the available film doesn’t show many.  

However, Stidham does show the ability to throw into tight windows, especially slants and post routes, both staples of the Art Briles offense. Though ball placement anywhere on the field isn’t his greatest attribute, he is absolutely lethal on bootlegs. He can bootleg both ways and make incredible ball-placement throws, especially to the sidelines. In both high school and at Baylor he was at his best outside the pocket on designed bootlegs throwing on the run downfield. 

Jarrett will enroll at Auburn as perhaps the most polished and talented quarterback on the roster. The job will be his to lose. The questions about a Stidham-led offense will  be focused not only on Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee but also on receivers coach, Kodi Burns. Baylor’s offensive machine was good because of perimeter players, many of whom are enjoying success on NFL rosters. Stidham will enjoy a running game he didn’t possess at Baylor, but he will be no different than Sean White if Auburn’s young receivers are not developed.

12 Comments

  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……We’ll have to have the hands team out there, in the receiving corps, for Stidham to flourish, it seems. Thus far in the Malzhan era, receivers that can block have gotten the lion’s share of the playing time.

  2. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    Now if only we could pick up a big JUCO TE that can block AND catch!

    • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

      Tongue and Cheek, yes?

      Because Gus and company may have done just that with the signing of the “Fighting Artichoke” Salvatore Cannella (how great is that name)!?!

      I came close to writing something just for him and his decision to choose Auburn. But to your point, Col., this should be good news.

      • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

        Crap – sorry “Tongue-in-Cheek”

        I can’t think and type at the same time…

        But, War Eagle, anyway…

  3. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    Excellent, detailed analysis, Zach.

    I have been burned by too many pre-season hyped up recruits to let myself get too excited about anybody.

    From what I have been reading about Stidham, he will be a bigger version of Sean White. Both QBs have much in common. They both have better than average accuracy short to medium range, but are not super tight farther out. Neither one is bullet proof and have suffered from injuries which have affected their game.

    It is up to the offensive coaches to develop plays designed to maximize players on the roster. Gus used to be one of the best at that. But lately he has seemed more inclined to force players into roles he wants them to run, even if the guys we have are not ideally suited to the plays.

    • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

      If he forces Stidham into his offense, Stidham will be Jeremy Johnson part 2. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it ain’t. And I’m not stretching the analogy. It would be 2015 to the T.

      If he tailors the offense to Stidham, the sky is the limit.

    • mcleodbk says:

      KungFu, he’s not a bigger version of Sean White. I watched full replays of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State games while he was at Baylor in 2015, and his skill set is simply superior to White’s. He’s faster, has a quicker release, has a stronger arm, and throws a much better deep ball.

      Instead of comparing him to White, I think a better comparison is Trevor Knight. He has similar athleticism to Knight and has really good straight-line speed and a similar ability to extend broken plays (something the Gus offense really needs, and something that White can’t do). He’s not as muscular and isn’t quite as good of an open-field runner as Knight is, but he’s also more accurate and throws a better deep ball than Knight. So I’d say he’s a less developed running but better passing version of Trevor Knight.

  4. audude audude says:

    Great write up Zach. It’s nice to hear some positive news for a change. Thanks for the in-depth analysis.

    WDE

  5. ausouthal says:

    It will be quite interesting to see how this plays out. We need the best qb to win the job and be able to play without looking over his shoulder!

  6. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    I don’t know if this has been said in any previous post but I believe White is our guy next year. A healthy White was a winner! Stidham may out practice White for a good, long look to start but White was scrappy, had the throwing ability to keep a D honest and coupled with Pettway they were a force. Stidham has three years left? I believe White can get us to the playoffs next year with Pettway and another stout D. There, I said it.

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