Auburn has a new offensive coordinator in Chip Lindsey this spring, and many of his players feel the transition has been a smooth one thus far.
“We still have the same philosophy tempo-wise, full-speed,” said Auburn receiver Ryan Davis after the team’s first scrimmage last Saturday. “It’s pretty much the same thing; nothing too much has changed.”
After the hire, head coach Gus Malzahn said Lindsey will be calling the plays for the Tigers this fall, though his primary focus in his career has been developing quarterbacks.
Transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who many believe is the favorite to win the job, was recruited to Auburn by former offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Stidham and Lashlee had a close relationship before the latter left Auburn for the same position at Connecticut in January.
While Stidham remains close with Lashlee, he is now moving full steam ahead with Lindsey.
“It’s just part of the business,” Stidham said. “Obviously whenever I came here I thought coach Lashlee was going to be here and me and him are still tight; we’ll talk every other week just to check up on each other but when it happened, like I said it’s part of the business. Coach Lindsey is a great offensive coordinator, a great, great guy and I’m grateful that he’s here with us and I think he’s going to be really good for us.”
During Auburn’s scrimmage, Malzahn said the Tigers ran about 60 percent of the time and threw 40 percent of the time “by design.” In the past, Malzahn said his teams have usually ran 80 percent of the time and thrown 20 percent of the time during the first spring scrimmage. He also said there were about “eight or 10” deep passes thrown downfield.
Returning starting quarterback Sean White participated in some 7-on-7 drills last weekend, but did not scrimmage as he continues to recover from the arm injury he suffered in January during Auburn’s loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
“I like Coach Lindsey a lot,” White said. “I think he knows a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff about mechanics when it comes to the quarterbacks and a lot about footwork and how things work. Today, I loved the play calling he used in the scrimmage. I thought the play calling was really spot on and I’m excited to play for him.”
Malzahn has also stated that Lindsey plans to utilize tight ends more in the passing game, a wrinkle that has been minimized significantly in recent seasons at Auburn. The Tigers signed two in the 2017 recruiting cycle — junior college transfer Sal Cannella and John Samuel Shenker, both three-star prospects.
Jalen Harris, Auburn’s returning starter at tight end, caught two passes for 16 yards and two touchdowns last season. No Auburn tight ends caught a pass in 2015.
“He’s a great guy,” Harris said when asked about Lindsey earlier this month. “He told me he coached coach (Phillip) Lutzenkirchen, so we had a connection there. He’s a good guy, and I just know, at the end of the day, he’s going to do what’s right to help the team succeed.”