Lindsey Excited For First Game as Auburn Offensive Coordinator
Offensive Coordinator Chip Lindsey discussing his game week plans on Sunday, August 27
(Photo: Auburn Athletics)
Well, it's official. It's game week on the plains.
Offensive Coordinator Chip Lindsey kicked off game week by speaking with the media on Sunday night, previewing the week ahead.
Lindsey, who is preparing for his first game as offensive coordinator of the Auburn Tigers, opened by saying that his group has responded well to the transition from fall camp, to game week.
Lindsey was first asked about receivers Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis, and how they have performed during camp. Will they contribute highly this week, and this season?
"They have just made plays, contested catches. Darius and Ryan both have stood out at times, I think that they are in a good position heading into this week."
Another key topic when it comes to Auburn receivers, is Kyle Davis. Due to personal reasons, Davis missed spring practice, leaving him in a position to "catch up" during the summer and during fall camp. Needing to transition to a new quarterback, and a new offensive scheme, how is Davis reacting?
"I see a guy that's hungry, a guy that's excited to be there. He's a really good competitor, he's very talented for sure. He has done a nice job of transitioning back to football mode. Camp is pretty long, I feel like he is now back in a groove, and back in good shape. We are looking for big things out of him."
A new addition to the offense, is the tight end. Since C.J. Uzomah's departure after the 2014 season, the Auburn offense has not had a true tight end threat, until now. Sal Canella, a transfer from Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, is expected to give Auburn another option when it comes to the passing game. Lindsey praises Canella's versatility.
"He is our tight end that is very versatile. He can line up in three different spots. He won't always do that, but that is kind of our thought. I like the progress that he has made. He is a guy that has good ball skills, and runs good routes. He's very natural at that. He is improving his blocking. I think that he has had a really good camp."
A group that will not be officially named until Tuesday morning, the offensive line has been a popular topic around Auburn Football. Lindsey is pleased with the relationship that each player is forming.
"I think that they are getting better, and continuing to gel. I think that is important as you get ready to play games. Those guys that are used to working with each other, communication and so forth. I like the progress that they are making. I think those guys are going to form a really good unit for us."
Moving from training camp, to game week can be a difficult task for head coaches and coordinators alike. Lindsey breaks down the transition.
"You go against your own defense, there are certain things that are going to be good, but there are also things that you know you want to run and rep. I think its a situation of where we are trying to narrow things down and game plan, which means that there are less plays, and less volume, and we are looking for more execution and more volume. They key for us early on this week is "what do we want to take in?" and "what do we have time to rep?" There are a lot of really good plays out there, but you only get so many reps in practice. I think every coordinator in the country probably fights that battle. I think that we are in a really good spot, I think we know a lot about our team, which is important when you develop a game plan."
Each game plan can be complex, but also needs to be specific. Starting with the quarterback.
"The most important thing, is that (Jarrett Stidham) knows where to go with the ball in every situation. There's a lot of times, I think coaching quarterbacks, you draw up a play and concept and you go "this is really good against this coverage" and for whatever reason, he does not feel comfortable with it. Maybe because he has not done it a lot, or his arm talent, or whatever the case may be, each quarterback is different. It's important as a coordinator to run what the guy feels good at, and what fits."
Lindsey's position during games:
Each coordinator has their own preference when it comes to where they are on game days. Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele prefers to sit in the press box during games, to get a better look of the opposing offense. In year's prior, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee roamed the sidelines with Head Coach Gus Malzahn. Where will the first-year man be found on game days? He will be closer to his players.
"I like that," Lindsey said of spending face-to-face time with his players on the sidelines. "I think that it's really important, especially when you are on the sideline and you can look that guy in the eye, you have the opportunity to see how he is reacting to things. That's a huge advantage to be able to do that."
Lindsey does mention that offensive line coach Herb Hand will represent the offense in the press box, and values his experience.
Coaching at Auburn:
Lindsey spent many years as a high school coach prior to entering the college ranks. Now that he is an offensive coordinator at Auburn, he is living his dream.
"My first ever college football game that I ever saw was in Jordan-Hare. The opportunity to be at a great place, and growing up in this state is pretty special. The big thing for me, is to focus on my job, and not to get caught up in all of that. It's definitely a great experience, and I am looking forward to it."
Lindsey says that Stidham still works with the one's regularly, but Sean White is ready to go if needed.
"He's still getting reps. Sean has played a lot, he is a veteran in that respect, so he get's some reps as well."
Stidham's outlook on the position has not changed, says Lindsey.
"Jarrett has been the same guy to me. He has prepared the same, his attitude, his energy been the same. When he was named starter, he did not try to re-invent himself. Good leaders are going to be who they are, Jarrett has done a really good job of doing everything that has gone with that."
In many situations, quarterbacks have the option to audible a play if he does not feel confident in how it will turn out. Will Stidham have that opportunity?
"Sometimes, it depends. You try to call plays that may be you don't have to check out of, but there will be times, I'm sure, that he will have to do that."
How many plays does the new offensive coordinator plan to script to open games?
"You like to script plays that you think that you can execute, and that are fairly simple that our guys have a lot of confidence in. You want to snap the ones that you think will give you the best opportunity to get your guys off to a good start, that is the most important thing."
For a couple of years, running back Kerryon Johnson has served as quarterback in the "wildcat" formation. Will he continue to have that role?
"I think that we have multiple guys that can do that. Whether or not we do it in the first game or so, I don't know."
Scouting Georgia Southern:
Spending time as a high school head coach in Georgia, Lindsey is well aware of the tradition that the Georgia Southern Eagles have, and how tough of an opponent they can be. In recent years, the Eagles have defeated Florida, and have taken Georgia and Georgia Tech down to the wire.
"I see a team that plays really hard. They have a lot of tradition, they are really proud, and they are not intimidated coming to an SEC school, they have proven that in their time. I think that their coach does a great job, he's done a great job, he's a great, young coach. I think that he will have his guys prepared, and we definitely need to come ready to play. This team that we are playing is capable (of winning), and we need to make sure that we can take care of ourselves this week and be ready."