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Gatewood responding well

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Joey Gatewood responding well as Auburn's de facto QB2 this spring

Updated 7:03 AM; Posted 7:00 AM

Auburn quarterback Joey Gatewood (1) waits for the snap Thursday, March 1, 2018, during the first day of spring football practice at the Auburn Athletic Complex in Auburn, Ala. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)

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By Tom Green

tgreen@al.com

Joey Gatewood has had an unusual perspective during his first semester on campus.

With Jarrett Stidham limited so far this spring while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Gatewood has had the opportunity to work exclusively with Auburn's second-team offense, as opposed to the third unit, through the first two weeks of spring practices while also learning from both Stidham and sophomore Malik Willis. His elevated status early on in spring practice has been a "good thing," according to coach Gus Malzahn.

"He's responded well," Malzahn said. "He's a smart guy. He's got all the No. 2 reps, which I think does nothing but help. He's a competitive guy, too."

Gatewood, a former four-star dual-threat quarterback who signed with Auburn in December and enrolled early. He spent the early portions of spring settling in and learning the base offense, with Stidham often standing not far behind him -- particularly during pace drills and 7-on-7's -- to give pointers along the way.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder has also worked with offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey on improving his passing mechanics as Gatewood adjusts to the position full-time after being used in a variety of roles at Bartram Trail in high school and, more importantly, learns the ins and outs of being a quarterback in the SEC.

"He's coachable," Malzahn said. "When Coach Lindsey has made points, he's carried it over to the practice field. He's got a very strong arm and obviously we already knew he could run well. But so far, so good. We've been impressed with him."

That extends beyond the coaching staff, as Gatewood has made a strong impression early on with many of his teammates -- particularly the wide receivers he has been working to build a rapport with.

Eli Stove made the obvious comparison between Gatewood and former Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton due to Gatewood's size and physical tools. Malzahn has made that very comparison before, noting some of the similarities between the two but adding that there's only one Cam Newton.

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While Gatewood is his own man and is looking to find his place within Auburn's offense, the Tigers have been pleased with how he has done with the second-team offense this spring.

"I think he's got a strong arm," receiver Darius Slayton said. "He's a big kid. Just like any other freshman coming in, he's got some things to learn. But I think he's done a solid job so far."

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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In some ways, these articles are painful to read because it feels like the players/coaches are giving canned compliments, first because they haven't really had time to assess the new players, and second, because they are freshman and the odds are soundly against them coming in and being amazing right away. I just feel like, if they said what they were really thinking it would go more like "I know you want him to be great, I do too, but he's a freshman, so he's just kind of a ball of talent with a lot of learning to do. Right now, he probably wouldn't start for UAB." 

Aside from that, I wonder what level of playing time he will see on A-Day. It will be fun to see him out there.

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8 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

In some ways, these articles are painful to read because it feels like the players/coaches are giving canned compliments, first because they haven't really had time to assess the new players, and second, because they are freshman and the odds are soundly against them coming in and being amazing right away. I just feel like, if they said what they were really thinking it would go more like "I know you want him to be great, I do too, but he's a freshman, so he's just kind of a ball of talent with a lot of learning to do. Right now, he probably wouldn't start for UAB." 

Aside from that, I wonder what level of playing time he will see on A-Day. It will be fun to see him out there.

My thought with this one, too. This actually reminds me a bit of the responses the players gave about Cowart. (Lawson: "He's big." :Sing:)

I expect Gatewood to have a much better experience at Auburn, but it does seem like the older players prefer questions that aren't isolated to the shiny new toy. Slayton and Stove would probably much rather talk about the chemistry they've developed with Willis this spring, for example. 

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2 hours ago, lionheartkc said:

In some ways, these articles are painful to read because it feels like the players/coaches are giving canned compliments, first because they haven't really had time to assess the new players, and second, because they are freshman and the odds are soundly against them coming in and being amazing right away. I just feel like, if they said what they were really thinking it would go more like "I know you want him to be great, I do too, but he's a freshman, so he's just kind of a ball of talent with a lot of learning to do. Right now, he probably wouldn't start for UAB." 

Aside from that, I wonder what level of playing time he will see on A-Day. It will be fun to see him out there.

Would you please let me know if/ when Gus decides to tell it like it is. I've been waiting several years now.

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I hope he has a year or two of Cam Newton like production for us. 

I normally don't call our players kids, but Gatewood enrolled early. Most kids his age are thinking about prom now, not being QB2 (QB3) for a SEC school. But this kid was committed to us for a LONG time. Most of the time kids commit in the 9th grade they don't end up with that school. He stuck with us. I truly hope he has an amazing career at Auburn. 

Edited by Auburn2Eugene
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13 minutes ago, ArgoEagle said:

Would you please let me know if/ when Gus decides to tell it like it is. I've been waiting several years now.

That's a totally random comment for this conversation... no one is going to "tell it like it is" when reporters are asking about a true freshman in his first week of practice. But, as @Mikey would point out, I guess people need to get their Gus swipes in where they can.

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11 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

That's a totally random comment for this conversation... no one is going to "tell it like it is" when reporters are asking about a true freshman in his first week of practice. But, as @Mikey would point out, I guess people need to get their Gus swipes in where they can.

Not a random comment. Gus gives (some of  the most vanilla interviews I've ever heard.) That's how you tell it like it is.

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We tagging people in now? One group anti-Gus, another Pro-Gus. Be glad when it gets back to what is good for Auburn and root for our school.

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2 hours ago, ArgoEagle said:

Would you please let me know if/ when Gus decides to tell it like it is. I've been waiting several years now.

I can answer that: Never. No coach is going to give completely candid interviews to writers, many of whom are wishing his team the worst.

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1 hour ago, Mikey said:

I can answer that: Never. No coach is going to give completely candid interviews to writers, many of whom are wishing his team the worst.

I am totally fine with this as long as the HC goes to the no comment line if said HC has been straightforward with reporters before. 

wde

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1 hour ago, DAG said:

We tagging people in now? One group anti-Gus, another Pro-Gus. Be glad when it gets back to what is good for Auburn and root for our school.

Just know that I'm not as good at holding my breath as I once was.

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If you want to have entertaining HC interviews in the AU world look no further than Bruce Pearl. That guy actually tells it like it is -- positive or negative -- and is actually very entertaining in the process.

Stop expecting it from Gus, he ain't ever gonna be that guy, and it'll save you some frustration. 

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20 hours ago, Mikey said:

I can answer that: Never. No coach is going to give completely candid interviews to writers, many of whom are wishing his team the worst.

Like who? 

As far as Gatewood. Needs to redshirt. Doesn't look to be comfortable in the pocket yet. Bad footwork. Doing true freshman things like true freshmen do.  Is getting the coaching that he needs. 

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6 minutes ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Like who? 

As far as Gatewood. Needs to redshirt. Doesn't look to be comfortable in the pocket yet. Bad footwork. Doing true freshman things like true freshmen do.  Is getting the coaching that he needs. 

Side bar: Crazy just how critical a recruit Malik Willis ended up being. I mean, hopefully he doesn't have to prove that this season, but I think our stomachs would be handling this offseason- complete with Stidham's surgery and subsequent missed spring- very differently if he wasn't on board. 

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3 minutes ago, McLoofus said:

Side bar: Crazy just how critical a recruit Malik Willis ended up being. I mean, hopefully he doesn't have to prove that this season, but I think our stomachs would be handling this offseason- complete with Stidham's surgery and subsequent missed spring- very differently if he wasn't on board. 

Yep. And how good he has been. Much better than Gatewood through his first couple of practices. 

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17 minutes ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Yep. And how good he has been. Much better than Gatewood through his first couple of practices. 

Currently or where malik was last year?

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1 hour ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Yep. And how good he has been. Much better than Gatewood through his first couple of practices. 

Of course, in Gatewood's defense, Willis was a full time starting QB in high school vs a jack of all trades sharing time at the QB spot.  I'm looking forward to a heck of a QB battle in 2019 where we win no matter who wins.

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On 3/13/2018 at 12:13 PM, lionheartkc said:

That's a totally random comment for this conversation... no one is going to "tell it like it is" when reporters are asking about a true freshman in his first week of practice. But, as @Mikey would point out, I guess people need to get their Gus swipes in where they can.

Gus drinks from the milk jug and doesn’t appreciate the value of a glass of milk. 

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So Gatewood is who we thought he'd be....highest upside of all our QBs, but has a looong way to go.  He and Bo Nix should have a heck of a competition one day, after Malik has graduated. 

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1 minute ago, AUDevil said:

So Gatewood is who we thought he'd be....highest upside of all our QBs, but has a looong way to go.  He and Bo Nix should have a heck of a competition one day, after Malik has graduated. 

I can't imagine just Willis being handed the keys to the car next year and especially not in 2020. With Gatewood's work ethic and Nix's continued improvement and solid coaching in high school, I would expect Willis to have to work for it every year. We are setup to have a very good problem deciding who is behind center.

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13 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I can't imagine just Willis being handed the keys to the car next year and especially not in 2020. With Gatewood's work ethic and Nix's continued improvement and solid coaching in high school, I would expect Willis to have to work for it every year. We are setup to have a very good problem deciding who is behind center.

You're right, he won't be handed the keys. But he will be in his 3rd year, having at least gotten snaps each of the previous two seasons. He is QB1 for this entire spring. He will be "competing" with one guy who 1) will have likely never taken a snap and who is currently not drawing the same kind of praise that Willis did last season at this point and 2) another guy who still has a season of high school ball left. Nothing is certain, but it's extremely unlikely that anyone other than Willis is starting in 2019.

And if Willis does start in 2019, stays healthy and comes back for 2020, then it's even less likely that someone else starts.

Edited by McLoofus
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2 hours ago, McLoofus said:

Side bar: Crazy just how critical a recruit Malik Willis ended up being. I mean, hopefully he doesn't have to prove that this season, but I think our stomachs would be handling this offseason- complete with Stidham's surgery and subsequent missed spring- very differently if he wasn't on board. 

I think we will be for a pleasant surprise if he has to take the reigns for some odd reason.

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