With last Saturday’s 23-9 loss at Mississippi State, Auburn suddenly finds itself straggling behind in the SEC West race. Blame for the unexpected struggles has mostly fallen on Tigers coach Gus Malzahn and quarterback Jarrett Stidham, under whose direction the offense has surprisingly labored through the first half of the year.

The criticism is starting to grow, but Stidham hasn’t heard any of it.

“I’m not focused on anything other than getting better every week,” the junior told reporters Tuesday. “I’ve said it a bunch of times in here. I don’t even have social media. I mean, I have Instagram, but I use Instagram as a platform to put more positivity out in the world, not necessarily look at stuff that’s negative. That’s just how I am and how I’m gonna continue to be.

“So I don’t really care about the criticism or negativity because at the end of the day, everybody in these walls, we’ve all got each other’s back, and we’re gonna continue to get better every week.”

In fact, Stidham said relentless positivity is his way of dealing with any adversity that comes his way, whether it’s a crushing division loss or an overthrown pass in the first quarter. When it comes to motivating teammates during a rough stretch of a game, Stidham is the same way.

“I’m not so much the guy that’s gonna start yelling and screaming and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “I like instill confidence in our guys and I like to give them positivity.”

So far, that leadership method hasn’t translated into much success. The No. 21 Tigers (4-2, 1-2 SEC) are 11th in the conference in scoring offense with just 28.7 points per game, and their chances of repeating as SEC West champions look slim.

Just don’t expect Stidham too get too down in the dumps about it.