Auburn hires Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has a new offensive coordinator and quarterback, and is hoping that combination helps fuel a passing revival.

Malzahn hired Chip Lindsey as coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Saturday, handing him the reins of an offense that has sputtered in the passing game since the 2013 Southeastern Conference championship season. Transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham, meanwhile, got a huge ovation when he was among the football newcomers introduced at halftime of Auburn's basketball game against Alabama.

''I think we're in as good a spot offensively as any other time I've been at Auburn,'' Malzahn said after the game.

He's counting on it after two straight 8-5 seasons.

Lindsey spent last season in the same job at Arizona State. He replaces Rhett Lashlee, who left to become UConn's offensive coordinator.

Lindsey worked on Auburn's staff during the 2013 season as an offensive analyst, then spent two years as the offensive coordinator at Southern Miss.

''The time here, it was amazing, learning how he thought and how he game planned and did things,'' Lindsey said. ''And we took a lot of those things with us. Everybody's got their own spin on offense. We all have our own personality that comes out when you design an offense.

''The bottom line has never changed. The most important thing is to get the ball to your best players. It's really that simple.''

Malzahn relinquished play calling duties to Lashlee after a 1-2 start last season, and said Lindsey will handle them, too.

''My old offensive clipboard, I'm retiring it,'' Malzahn said.

Lindsey coached Conference USA's 2015 Offensive Player of the Year Nick Mullens at Southern Miss.

Arizona State averaged 33.3 points and 390.8 yards per game last season.

Malzahn said he was looking for a coach who could develop and evaluate quarterbacks and be a good fit with his no-huddle, run/play-action philosophy.

Auburn lost to Oklahoma 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl and was No. 24 in the final rankings.

At Southern Miss, Lindsey's offense broke five single-season school records in 2015, including passing yards, total yards, touchdowns, points and completions. The Golden Eagles ranked 12th in points and passing yards per game.

Like Malzahn, Lindsey is a former high school coach.

He coached Parade All-American and Georgia quarterback signee Hutson Mason at Lassiter High School in Georgia. Matson set state records for passing yards and touchdowns in 2009.

Auburn ranked 112th nationally in passing offense last season, averaging 169.5 yards per game. A former Baylor starter, Stidham will compete with returning starter Sean White at quarterback during the spring. Lindsey was at Auburn during White's recruitment, and was trying to recruit Stidham to Arizona State so is familiar with both.

He arrived Saturday with a big group of recruits visiting campus.

''I think the timing is good,'' Malzahn said. ''The fact that it's our biggest recruiting weekend, and the fact that Chip's going to get a chance to meet them face to face.''

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