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Unfinished Business

By on January 6th, 2018 in Football, News 11 Comments »

Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham has made his decision and will return to the Plains for the 2018 season! I always thought he would make the decision to stay, but you just never know.

Stidham said, “I feel like coming back and being at Auburn is going to be the best thing for me. I feel like there is a lot of unfinished business for me. This year, we were really close to being where we wanted to be as a team. I didn’t like that taste in my mouth. I want to come back and finish what we started.”

Very well stated, in my opinion. 

Stidham did not have a particularly bad year. I mean, he threw for 3,158 yards and actually led the SEC in completion percentage at 66.5%. He had 18 TD passes against 6 interceptions with, unfortunately, two of those coming in the Peach Bowl. His passer rating of 150.99 is good enough for 4th in the SEC. BUT, he did fumble in four, count them, four consecutive games. This includes the fumble in the Peach Bowl but doesn’t count the pick-six, which virtually assured Auburn of a loss.

Please don’t take the above comments the wrong way. I am extremely happy to have a veteran quarterback in Jordan-Hare Stadium this year. I’m very happy that Stidham made the decision he did. The above negativity, if you want to call it that, is merely facts. The offensive line played into those fumbles and interceptions. The UCF defense played a part as it came to Atlanta to PLAY.

But, having Stidham back is at least part of a foundation upon which an offense can be built.

As for other unfinished business, there is still a National Signing Day approaching just about a month from now, Auburn has others who are already committed and some still being chased.

Auburn did get some spotlight on the national stage when 4* WR Anthony Schwartz made his commitment to Auburn.

TET will still have an open thread hosted by yours truly on Signing Day. I will give, as best I can, a preview, and I will, of course, have a summary thereafter. But, like AubTigerman, I am going to miss the “circus.”

Acid Reign did a really good piece following the new “early signing day,” so I will only provide a brief reminder of that. We have gained some new commits, and let’s hope these guys follow through with letters of intent and, even more importantly, academically eligibility.

Unfinished business, again, so easily relates to the 2017 season. Auburn lost to Clemson in a close game. That’s no big deal, really. Now comes LSU. My feeble brain cannot find any excuse for that one. But, following that, Auburn went on a tear, both on offense and defense, that we rarely witness. This culminated in wins over Number 1 Georgia and Number 1 Alabama.

And this is where the “unfinished business” rears its ugly head.

Auburn wins the SEC West and heads to Atlanta to face, yet again, a team it has already beaten. But, at home, not on the road. Different situation and different outcome.

Then, a really good New Year’s Six bowl game invite to the Peach Bowl—yes, Atlanta, but still a really good bowl. And, Auburn didn’t, well, you know.

So now, the “unfinished business” is all on Auburn. You have a starting quarterback returning, some really decent recruits already signed (some of whom were able to participate in bowl practices), and some who are committed but not yet signed. Additionally, on the unfinished business list is the hiring of an athletic director to replace Jay Jacobs. Some names have been released as no longer being in contention, but we don’t know all of the other names on the search committee’s list.

I spoke briefly with President Leath prior to the Peach Bowl, but of course I received the expected “coach-speak” as it related to a new AD. He did  say he “..hopes to have someone by mid-January.”—his exact words spoken to me directly.

There are other areas that have “unfinished business” such as building a new offensive line or, at least, a revamped one given the attrition; H-Back, RB, etc. All of these have to be addressed on the side of the line controlling the ball.

I have no doubts about Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown—they are solid—but losing Carlton Davis and Jeff Holland will require someone to step up in a big way. Let’s not forget Tray Matthews as he will be missed. Time for the younger guys to “step it up” and get it done.

I don’t have ill will toward any single player that chose the NFL route. That’s why they played college football. Having good players opt for the NFL draft and then end up playing NFL football helps Auburn with recruiting.

With all this said, however, the “unfinished business” with which I’m most concerned is the coaching staff.

Yes, I love the stability aspect, but it goes beyond that. The coaching staff has to have a solid game plan, has to be able to make adjustments (sometimes on the fly, especially at halftime), and HAS to have the team ready to play regardless of the time, location, turf, etc. Coaches, this is YOUR job!

Do this and there won’t be any “unfinished business” when you’re holding that CFP National Championship Trophy over your head.

WAR EAGLE EVERYONE!!

11 Comments

  1. neonbets says:

    In other words–the story (or concern) with 2018–Will ‘stability’ become just another word for ‘staleness’? Will Malzahn be just another version of Richt and Miles?

    As for Stidham–Can he get past his first read? If his 1st option is open, Stidham is outstanding–with a pop and accuracy that rivals some of the best in the NFL. But, if option 1 is covered–that play is doomed. Stidham will simply jump into full-on ‘Mexican Jumping Bean’ mode before taking the inevitable sack or launching the ball into the stands. It’s really quite frustrating to watch.

    In the end, both Malzahn and Stidham need to spend the off season reading ‘Of Mice and Men’. Even the best laid plans of Mice, Men, Head Coaches and Star QBs often go awry. Can Malzahn and Stidham improvise, adapt and successfully execute a Plan B?

  2. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    The old compliment sandwich here:
    2nd auburn qb to throw for 3000 yards. Thats solid. At times, Stidham was a great looking qb.

    He got a ton of help from Ryan Davis, who turned many of those short completions into huge gains that padded those numbers. That goes overlooked.

    But he couldn’t get the job done when it auburn had to pass. Some of that is him, some of it was the pieces around him. Midseason her heard rumbling about presnap calls. I think that has a lot to do with the losses.

  3. WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

    Good article ATL,

    I too am glad that Stidham is back but your so right there is more unfinished business than having having Jarrett Stidham back. There’s leadership needed in the AD office and there’s an offensive line that needs to be rebuilt. And next year is going to be tough having to play bama & Ga. back to back on the road.

    • jbellison56 says:

      Yeah, like rebuilding an offensive line coaching staff. Auburn was out physicaled by UCF in the trenches. it was amazing that Stidham threw for 330 yards with little or no protection. Worst O-line performance i can remember in a bowl game. No Excuse for it, none!

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  4. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    We had some great momentum mid-season. Unfinished business HAS to address winning on the road vs. quality opponents. Like mentioned above, UGA and Bama are both on the road this coming season. Luckily we’ll get Washington in Atlanta to open the season which has potential for Gus to finally accomplish that piece of the puzzle.
    In regards to Stidham staying, we needed that to happen. I didn’t mind his option to toss the ball into the stands when he didn’t see anything (it beats all of the JJ sacks and INT decisions). My issue is that he had to do that too often. The offensive line giving him time helps and the receivers creating separation helps too. I can’t knock Stidham for his overall play this year. It was such a welcome sight to have a guy in that position who is good and fairly consistent. If a pick-6 decides the game then we have to look at why the game was that close to begin with.
    I do hope that Gatewood gets some playing time this year. We need a viable option when Stidham leaves after this coming season. Gatewood will open with Oregon in Texas for his first game as a starter (assumed).

  5. Tiger Tiger says:

    This is good news, and I’m glad Stidham is returning to Auburn. With the loss of Pettway, Kerryon, and a bunch of good guys on the O-line, we’ll need some experience on offense, and I have, eh…limited faith….that Malzahn could develop any QB out of high school.

    I feel good about TD Moultry, Big Kat, or even Nick Coe replacing Jeff Holland. Defensive line looks like it will be fun again next year.

    However, losing Pettway and especially Kerryon actually bothers me a good bit. The last two years, we’ve recruited a lot of small RB’s (185 – 195 lbs or so) and we’ve missed out on a lot of those 225 lb, true SEC RB’s. Auburn shouldn’t lose focus on the bigger, heavier players. Sure, the small guys may put up 150 yards and 1 TD per game, but it will done in all of 4 plays, instead of grinding out yardage and wearing down an opposing defense. I don’t like that. Let’s get some heavy chain-movers back on this team!

  6. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Hopefully, CGM will open the position up for others to compete. I think JS could use someone pushing him to get even better… Maybe a hungry Willis and Gatewood can provide some good competition. Hopefully JS’s world travelling won’t cut into his workouts…

  7. WDE7385 WDE7385 says:

    Well, Capt. Queeg says:
    “I think we played the toughest schedule in college football. We played Georgia, then Alabama, then turned around and played Georgia again,” he said. “We’re really close as a program and in a good place for the future.”

    http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2018/01/what_does_gus_malzahn_think_ab.html#incart_river_index

  8. […] Auburn will be in a rebuilding mode in 2018. The good news is starting quarterback; Jarrett Stidham decided this weekend to return. And Auburn has some talented younger guys ready to step up.  But it’s going to take a massive […]

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