Auburn Tigers fans were treated to football at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
Spring football, but football nonetheless.
After a 10-win season (including a pair against No. 1-ranked teams) and a berth in the SEC Championship Game, Auburn fans were eager to see their team back in action. There are still nearly five months until the regular season kicks off, but the Tigers gave everyone a glimpse of what's in store for 2018 this weekend.
It was a rather small crowd for this year's Auburn spring game, although the weather may have played a role in the low attendance:
The festivities started with 10 minutes of seven-on-seven. Although it may not be the most thrilling experience for fans, it gave them a chance to see starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham—who underwent shoulder surgery in January—in action.
Take it for what it's worth: Stidham was sharp, as James Crepea of AL.com noted:
Then, it was time for the Blue vs. Orange scrimmage.
As CBSSports.com's Barrett Sallee noted, head coach Gus Malzahn would be looking for certain things in this showcase:
With Stidham sidelined, young quarterbacks like Malik Willis (who will be a sophomore in 2018) and Joey Gatewood (sophomore) a chance to show what they could do. However, it was a titanic struggle for the offenses in the first half.
Willis was just 8-of-19 for 45 yards, zero touchdowns and one turnover for the Orange squad; meanwhile, Gatewood was 4-of-12 for zero yards.
Senior running back C.J. Tolbert gave fans a reason to cheer by ripping off a 79-yard run to set up the lone touchdown of the first half, courtesy of Scott Forester of ABC 33/40:
Struggling quarterbacks led to a low-scoring half, a 15-3 Orange lead. One positive Malzahn could take away from the opening 20 minutes is the fact freshman kicker Anders Carlson went 3-of-3 on field-goal attempts (45 yards, 38 and 41).
Although the second half didn't provide much offense either, sophomore wideout Marquis McClain provided the highlight of the day with a circus catch on a 46-yard gain to start the fourth quarter.
The star of the game was undoubtedly Tolbert, who played for both squads. He had six carries for 97 yards and a touchdown for the Orange team before adding 40 yards and a score on 10 rushes for the Blue squad. He was the only one to find the end zone.
Carlson also turned some heads, going a perfect 4-of-4 on field-goal attempts, including a 54-yarder in the fourth quarter.
In the end, the Orange pulled out an 18-10 victory.
As with most spring games, it's tough to take much away from this scrimmage. Stidham didn't play and there was mix-and-matching going on with the squads. That being said, the offensive line had to have made a good impression on Malzahn, and like most of last season, the defense had a solid day.
The countdown to Sept. 1 kickoff against the Washington Huskies in Atlanta continues.