New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 22: Jarrett Stidham #4 of the New England Patriots looks on during the preseason game between the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

You know who knows a lot about Jarrett Stidham? His former head coach at college.

It’s good to make a habit to listen to the people who really know about a person when absorbing information and forming opinions based on them. Everyone’s got their Stidham takes, but a precious few truly have good knowledge of the 23-year-old quarterback’s potential. Put Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn on that list.

Here’s what Malzahn told ESPN’s Mike Reiss for his always-essential Sunday notes column on Stidham:

“It definitely helped him to learn under the best and see what that looks like, but he’s the kind of young man, too, this is what he’s been waiting on. I’ll tell you, the moment won’t be too big for him. He’ll be up to the challenge, that’s what I expect … Even when he got here, before he played his first game, you could just kind of tell he was a mature young man. Like a gym rat, always at the complex trying to learn, study film. When he got drafted by the Patriots [in 2019], I thought it was a perfect spot for him system-wise – spreading the field. He’s so good with protections, changing protections, and scheme-wise everything that goes with it, and just the flexibility the scheme gives him. I think that really applies to his strength.”

This is not Malzahn’s first public vote of confidence in Stidham. He previously said he expects the QB to be “very successful” for the Patriots in an interview on CBS Sports Radio.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 29: Jarrett Stidham #4 of the New England Patriots runs the ball during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 29: Jarrett Stidham #4 of the New England Patriots runs the ball during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The big question with Stidham, really, is whether he’d be able to handle the “moment” – that is, play consistently well as a starting quarterback, ideally enough to earn the ever-coveted “Franchise Quarterback” title. He’s not even guaranteed that role in 2020 yet, but he should be in the lead. His arm talent was on display in 2019 training camp. Reports were not exaggerated.

But yes, yes, training camp is not even close to being close to a real game. So it’s up to Stidham to prove his talent can translate once Sundays matter, and to make Malzahn look highly intelligent in the process.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.