CLEMSON, S.C. – Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham didn’t look like a quarterback who was sacked 11 times.
He didn’t feel too beat up, either, despite going down on his final three plays of the game in Saturday night’s 14-6 loss at No. 3 Clemson.
“I feel great,” Stidham said with a big smile. “No worries. I feel great.”
Gus Malzahn, on the other hand, looked defeated – and sounded even worse – after Auburn’s worst offensive performance ever under him.
The No. 13 Tigers (1-1) recorded 15 yards on 29 plays in the second half.
“Their defense is one of the best defense in the country, but we just didn’t get it done,” Malzahn said.
Somewhere in the middle of all this offensive ugliness is Chip Lindsey.
The new offensive coordinator has to figure out how to get Stidham going. Stidham threw for just 79 yards on 13-of-24 passing. One of his passes went for 23 yards on Auburn’s first drive.
His other 12 completions managed just 56 yards. That’s 4.6 yards a completion. Terrible, especially for a team that was supposed to uncork its vertical passing game this year.
Despite the play-calling looking very Gus-like, Malzahn said he didn’t call the plays Saturday. I asked him point blank if he had an urge to do so. Before I could get the question out, Malzahn said, “We’ll get better offensively. We’ll get better offensively and we’ll get this thing corrected. There’s no doubt about that.”
I can’t guarantee this, but if Auburn struggles offensively in its first three SEC games at Missouri and at home against Mississippi State or Ole Miss, Malzahn will be calling plays Oct. 14 at LSU.
People suspect Malzahn is already calling plays. He’ll make that publicly known if the struggles continue.
Malzahn pointed out the need to avoid obvious passing situations. Auburn went 6-of-17 on third down. The Tigers needed at least seven yards on eight third downs and didn’t pick up a first on any of them.
The Tigers’ offensive line, expected to be a strength this season, was disastrous against a Clemson defensive line loaded with NFL potential. The Tigers’ front simply didn’t get it done, but Stidham didn’t help by holding the ball too long on several occasions.
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