A-Day ended in a 37-13 victory for the blue team over the white team in a game that showcased the talents of players on Auburn’s roster and raised some questions heading into the summer and fall. Here are three A-Day takeaways.
1. Jarrett Stidham is talented.
Heading into the spring there was a distinct buzz around Jarrett Stidham’s arrival on the plains. His performance at A-Day will do nothing to stop the Auburn faithful’s expectations from increasing even more heading into the fall. While I’m not ready to buy into Stidham completely as Jeremy Johnson flashbacks creep into my mind, there is one thing that the spring game showed for sure: Stidham is talented.
The first thing that I noticed when watching Stidham was his throwing mechanics. He steps into his throws and hits his receivers in stride with accuracy. Not to mention, he showcased his ability to complete passes downfield as his longest throw was a 50 yard reception for Nate Craig-Myers. Furthermore, he has great pocket awareness meaning he knows when to step up into the pocket and make a throw, and he knows when it is time to tuck it and run. There is a major difference between A-Day and a live regular season game, but one can count on that Stidham has the talent to perform at a high level.
2. Where are the tight ends?
Over the past few seasons the tight end in Auburn’s offensive scheme has devolved into an absence of the actual position in the game plan. With the arrival of Chip Lindsey, Auburn fans were wondering if this meant that tight ends would make a reappearance in the offense. A-Day did not show us that would be the case.
First, look at the production that the “tight ends” had in today’s scrimmage. Jalen Harris caught two passes for 19 yards and Sal Cannella caught one pass for 15 yards. Neither player had a significant impact on the game. Canella was lined up in the slot as a receiver many times throughout the game which leads me to believe that his production will come from that part of the field and not at a true tight end position. The slot was utilized a lot in the game which could prove to be the substitute for tight end. After all, several players on Auburn’s roster have slot receiver skill sets. One has to keep in mind that John Samuel Shenker has yet to arrive on campus, and he will bring the skill set of a true tight end. Although we didn’t see much from the tight ends today, I do believe they will become a part of the offense in the future. It just will take some time for the position to be brought into the system.
3. John Franklin III’s transition to wide receiver won’t be easy.
It didn’t work out for John Franklin III at quarterback so he decided to make the transition to wide receiver this spring. That transition does not look like it will be easy.
He didn’t look comfortable at the position and that was shown with the first two passes thrown to him early in the game. The first pass thrown to him resulted in an incompletion after he was hit from behind and the ball bounced in the air for a near interception. The second was bobbled by Franklin III and then caught which only resulted in a two yard gain. His final stat line for the day was two receptions for 12 yards. Considering his transition to wide receiver has been talked about positively, his performance was underwhelming.
My other concern in regards to him playing wide receiver is that there is stout competition at the slot position. The competition includes the likes of Will Hastings who burst on to the scene today with seven receptions for 75 yards. Hastings showed that he has developed a relationship with Stidham in the passing game as eight of Stidham’s 20 passing attempts were thrown to Hastings. What does that mean for Franklin III? He is going to have a hard time showing the coaches that he can produce on the same level as Hastings. There are also other players, like Eli Stove, that showed last season that they can play in the slot, and they are actually wide receivers. The fact that Franklin III isn’t a true wide receiver is going to hurt him in the competition. At the moment, the only way I see Franklin III being able to contribute is out of special packages, and we don’t know how much Chip Lindsey likes to utilize those at the moment.