The Auburn defense was impressive in the Tigers’ 41-7 win over Georgia Southern on Saturday, holding the Eagles to just 78 yards of total offense, and while the offense put up 41 points, Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham was not impressed with his performance.
Playing in his first game since November 2015 when he played at Baylor, Stidham went 14/24 with 185 yards passing, two touchdowns, and one interception. He wasn’t afraid to make plays outside the pocket, rushing for 29 yards and a touchdown before being relieved by Devin Adams late in the fourth quarter.
“Personally, I didn’t think I did very well,” Stidham said. “As a team, I thought we did really good for the first game. Obviously, we have a stout defense. Special teams did great. Offensively, we did some good things and some bad things. We turned the ball over too much. We’re just going to have to get better from it.”
Auburn’s defense didn’t allow a first down in the opening quarter, but the Tigers led just 10-7 after one thanks in part to two consecutive turnovers by Stidham, including an interception by Georgia Southern linebacker Jay Bowdry.
“[With] the coverage that they were in, I felt really good about the matchup with Will [Hastings],” Stidham said. “The guy just kind of undercut it and picked it off. I should’ve went outside to Darius [Slayton]. But I need to get better.”
Stidham appeared hesitant at times, sometimes holding the ball for too long in the pocket. It is something he knows he needs to improve on with a difficult road test at Clemson coming next Saturday.
“That’s something I need to work on this week,” Stidham said. “Just kind of trusting it a little bit more, kind of staying with my progressions a little bit more. But there’s really no excuse for it, I just need to get better.”
After a bit of a rough start, Stidham bounced back in the second half, throwing two touchdown passes, including his best throw of the night, a perfect strike to Will Hastings in the corner of the end zone. While he may not have been impressed with his play, he certainly left a mark on his receivers.
“I think it was amazing. I was really impressed by how well he did. I think he did awesome,” Hastings said.
It was far from perfect, but coach Gus Malzahn certainly sees a bright future for his sophomore quarterback.
“We’ll have to look at the film. I know early on we had a deep one that we dropped. That was a big one at that point in the game,” Malzahn said. “But it was good for him to be out there. He’s going to be an outstanding quarterback. He’s played four college games, and that was two years ago. So I was pleased with the way that he handled the offense, and he will get nothing but better.”