Auburn football: Is Jarrett Stidham’s breakout game happening soon? (It needs to)

Jarrett Stidham's production is down in 2018. Will that change soon? (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jarrett Stidham's production is down in 2018. Will that change soon? (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Auburn football team needs the most productive Jarrett Stidham the Tigers quarterback can be.

Through four games this season, Stidham and the Auburn offense have struggled.

  • When Auburn scored 21 points, totaled 420 yards and Stidham threw for 273 yards in the Week 1 victory against No. 7 Washington, things looked good.
  • In the Week 2 rout of Alabama State, no one batted an eye when Auburn scored 63 points with 567 yards and Stidham threw just 11 passes in one half of play.
  • Questions came out after the loss in Week 3 to LSU. Stidham tossed a pair of interceptions, had 198 passing yards with Auburn totaling 328 yards of offense.
  • Auburn beat Arkansas, 34-3, last week, but it was one of the worst offensive performances of the Gus Malzahn era. Stidham threw for 134 yards on mostly short tosses and the Tigers managed 225 total yards.

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What gives, right?

Last season, Stidham threw for 3,158 yards — the second-most in Auburn football history — and averaged 225.5 passing yards per game. Through four games in 2018, he’s averaging 143.6 passing yards with 97 pass attempts.

By comparison, in the first four games of 2017 (vs. Georgia Southern, Clemson, Mercer and Missouri), Stidham averaged 211.5 yards passing per game with 102 pass attempts.

Each week, we keep thinking that this is going to be the week that Stidham and the offense snap out of this early-season funk. At least that’s what we hope it is.

Malzahn isn’t placing the success or failure of the offense on Stidham. There are variables.

"I think we’ve got to be real from the standpoint of the youth and inexperience. But we’re four games in now. The fact that we did start a new center, I think that’s going to help us moving forward. And we’ve got a lot of good information about what we have to do moving forward and what we have and what we feel like we can be good at and maybe what we need to stay away from."

Nick Brahms made his first start at center last week. The offensive line is full of new faces. Seth Williams replaced Nate Craig-Myers at receiver. Auburn is breaking in a mostly new backfield.

Yes, there are excuses — make that reasons — for Auburn’s struggles on offense. That doesn’t change the fact the struggles are real and if the coaches and players don’t figure out something soon, the teeth of the schedule are going to bite.

And it starts with Stidham.

Last season, he had four games in which he didn’t throw for 200 yards: Georgia Southern, Clemson, LSU and Georgia in the SEC Championship Game). He didn’t have to throw in the opener against Georgia Southern. Clemson lived in the backfield and Stidham had little time to throw the ball. The LSU game was his worst performance and Georgia was able to pin its ears and come after him with Kerryon Johnson playing at nowhere near 100 percent.

Stidham has reached 200 yards in just one of four games this season.

“I really believe it’s coming,” Malzahn said this week about Stidham having a breakout game. “You’ve got to understand, obviously there’s plays he would like back and all that. But you’ve got to play better around him too.”

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Does that happen this week against Southern Miss?

As 29-point favorites, it feels like the right time to try things and not just get by to the following week when Auburn travels to Mississippi State.

The schedule only gets tougher. If the offense doesn’t improve quickly, it’s going to be a rough road.