Nothing drives clicks in the preseason like a good ole fashion quarterback battle and Auburn has quite the contest going on right now. Two freshman are dueling it out to be the signal caller on the Plains for the next three seasons. After a rough scrimmage yesterday, it sounds like the coaching staff isn’t ready yet to make a decision on the starter so the battle rages on.
- Jarrett Stidham (4th Round Pick) - 224/369 (60.7%) 2794 yds 18 TD 5 INT 3 rushing TDs
- Malik Willis (Transfer to Liberty) - 5/7 (71.4%) 24 yds 12 carries 88 yds 7.3 avg TD
- Joey Gatewood (rFreshman) - 3 carries 28 yds 9.3 avg
- Cord Sandberg (rFreshman) - 3 carries 35 yds 11.7 avg
Strength - Athleticism
This QB battle features as athletically gifted a two quarterbacks as Auburn has had in some time. Joey Gatewood is a freak human being standing 6’5” 233 lbs but with the moves of a 5’10” 190 lb scat back. Bo Nix, on the other hand, is a gunslinger who passed for more yards in high school than anyone in the history of the state and actually has a faster 40 than Gatewood. Even “team dad” Cord Sandberg is no slouch leading the team in yards per carry last season thanks to those 3 keepers vs Alabama State. No matter who wins the job, Auburn will have an elite athlete at quarterback in 2019.
Weakness - Experience
No matter who wins the job, Auburn will also have a freshman quarterback in 2019 which has to be somewhat terrifying for Gus Malzahn. Especially considering both the schedule and the temperature of Malzahn’s seat at the moment. I think both Gatewood and Nix have extremely bright futures but they are also going to make some very frustrating mistakes over the course of the season. Hopefully Auburn has a good enough defense to protect them but no matter what these young guys are going to have to grow up fast this season.
As frustrating as he was at times last year, Auburn is really going to miss Jarrett Stidham in 2019. He threw for almost 6,000 yards in his two seasons on the Plains and 36 touchdowns. But it’s also easy to get excited about the future of this offense with either Gatewood or Nix in charge. The winner though will result in very different offenses. Gatewood leading the way would mean the return of the QB power run game. A Nix led offense probably looks more similar to what Auburn was doing in 2017 but with maybe some more designed QB runs. Heading into camp I got the feeling Gatewood had pulled ahead but early in camp its Nix who has gotten the most buzz. Neither though did much to distance themselves in this race yesterday against Auburn’s talented 1st team defense. I still think there’s a good chance you see both young men at some point when Auburn faces the Ducks on August 31st.