TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jarrett Stidham was in the right mindset entering halftime.
With a three-point deficit entering the second half, Stidham was 5-of-15 for 36 yards through the air. Despite both the deficit and Stidham's low passing totals, the team had been mentally prepared to continue with a close game through the fourth quarter.
“Everybody’s mindset during halftime was right where it needed to be,” Stidham said. “We just kind of let it slip away from us in the third quarter.”
Alabama outscored Auburn 21-7 in the third quarter alone, with the Crimson Tide finishing with 213 total yards to the Tigers’ 84. Stidham would finish the game with 127 yards through the air while completing 13 of 30 (43 percent) pass attempts.
Following a 52-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton that cut the Tide’s lead to 10, Stidham maintained his confidence despite Alabama pulling away late in the third quarter.
“We were in it the entire first half, halftime and then obviously when [the touchdown] happened too,” Stidham said. “We thought we were right in it. We just let it get away from us right there in the middle of the third, middle and end of the third quarter.”
Slayton said that the team had the added confidence that head coach Gus Malzahn believed Auburn could come in and knock off another top-ranked Alabama.
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“I really think we did, and that showed for the first half,” Slayton said. “We were right there, within three points.”
The three points separating Stidham from his crimson counterpart did not hold on long as Alabama scored on a two-minute 75-yard drive to open the second half.
Prior to a third-quarter outburst by Alabama, Auburn held onto the ball with potentially enough time to score before halftime.
To freshman Anthony Schwartz, Malzahn was correct in playing it safe.
“You never know what could happen,” Schwartz said. “I feel like playing it safe is just a good thing, especially only down by three going into halftime.”
To Malzahn, Auburn didn't need to worry about scoring before heading back to the locker room.
"Because I thought we were in a good spot," Malzahn said on his decision to run the clock down. "I didn’t want to turn the ball over. I think we had the ball on the 22 or 25 and all that, and I felt good about that decision. You just got to see how the game unfolds.
"We really thought we had a good chance to come in here and win," Malzahn added. "Our goal was to get it to the fourth quarter and we didn't get it done."
With less than 130 yards through the air from the team's starting quarterback, Slayton added that he was frustrated with the team's lack of passing production.
"Obviously, we knew their offense was explosive," Slayton said. "But so far, we felt like we were right there with them. We just wish we could've executed better and scored some more points."
Finishing the season 7-5, Auburn enters the postseason with high expectations of its younger players. With its second-year quarterback questioning his future on The Plains, Stidham said that he has yet to consider his options.
"I honestly haven’t even thought about it," Stidham said. "We just played a great team and took a loss. I honestly haven’t given it any thought.”
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