Jason's Thursday Mailbag: Gameday Edition

Answering your questions as the Tigers get ready to face Kansas State on Thursday night.

howells: What is the strength of the KSU defense?

When I look at the Wildcats on defense I see a group that is built on speed. Without a lot of size in the front seven, KSU must depend on swarming to the football and also making plays in the backfield with an aggressive scheme. It could pose some problems for Auburn, but if the Tigers get the ground game started it could be a long night for the home defense.

DyeHardFan: What is EJ's record as a DC against teams with a mobile QB and has he changed from his base defense when he plays them?

I'm not sure what Ellis Johnson's record is against mobile quarterbacks, but I don't think you will see Auburn change too much what the Tigers are doing on defense. Having the "star" position should really help Auburn be more versatile, allowing them to keep an eye on the QB without taking away from the defense.

ATLTiger07: What are some of your favorite non conference road trips that Auburn has had over the years? Curious to hear how you think Manhattan will stack up.

I have had a few favorites. Syracuse was probably the best with USC right up there. Both were fun times even though the games didn’t turn out well for the Tigers. Getting the chance to see New York outside of the city was a great thing to see. Loved the country up there.

mattree: Jason I would like to know which player we have not heard about from K-State will we notice making plays for them Thursday night. When they came to Auburn, I didn’t know anything about Jordie Nelson but I sure did after the game.

Running back Charles Jones is probably one of the guys to watch for for the Wildcats. With so much attention focused on Jake Waters in the running game, Jones could be a key for the Kansas State offense. Auburn has to keep him from ripping off big plays and he's capable of doing that if given some room.

tigerswag: Which players are stepping up as team leaders?

From a leadership standpoint I really like what I am seeing from Kris Frost. He has always had that characteristic, but I believe he's really stepping up in that department. I think the same is true of Corey Grant. He is coming into that role a little more even though it's not really his personality. No question that Nick Marshall and Reese Dismukes are two of the biggest leaders for the Tigers right now.

Jello1: Jason, in your opinion will Auburn focus on stopping the K.State QB run game, and leave Lockett man to man, or try to double the WR as many times as possible?

I think you’ll see Auburn play straight up early on and then adjust after seeing how that works. I believe the Tigers will try to throw some different looks at Kansas State in the secondary, but my guess is Jonathon Mincy will be on Lockett a good bit.

carnellisanescalade: 1) what would be your top 5 away games you'd like to see auburn play?
2) do you think the players are seeing this game as an opportunity to turn some heads? Is that a major motivating factor forth is game?

There are several non-conference teams I would love to see Auburn play a home and home with. Notre Dame, Washington, Army later in the fall, Michigan and probably my fifth would be Arizona State because of the Tempe area. As for the players and using this one as an opportunity, I think the Tigers are long past turning heads, but playing a Top 25 team on the road is always a chance to show out.

AubRX: 1. What is the best mismatch on paper in favor of Auburn?
2. What is the best mismatch on paper in favor of KSU?

I think Auburn's biggest advantage is size up front on offense compared to the Kansas State front seven. If the Tigers can get the running game rolling that could be huge. As for the Wildcats not sure they have a mismatch, but without Jermaine Whitehead deep Tyler Lockett is going to have to be paid even more attention to Thursday night.

AugTiger: How does the DE from KSU compare to the DE from Arkansas?

I don't see Mueller comparing to Trey Flowers a whole lot. I really see him more of a player in the mold of former Georgia standout David Pollack. He is a talented player, but what makes him a difference maker is his relentless effort on the field. He doesn't stop on a play and makes the offense work until the whistle.

alcar7: Do you see Barber or Roc getting any meaningful snaps (not mop-up duty) this week? I feel it's important we get one if not both those guys ready for murderer's row after La Tech to help take some of the load off CAP and Corey.

Even though the two young guys haven't gotten much work, it's not like CAP and Corey have been run into the ground. In a perfect world Peyton and Roc would get a few carries each week, but on the road that will depend on what the game looks like in the second half IMO.

eagle70: Who is your "pick to click" for Auburn on both offense and defense?

Good question. On offense I'll go with C.J. Uzomah. I really think he could have a big game with all the attention being paid to the running game and the outside guys. Could be a big opportunity for the tight end. Defensively, I'm looking for Elijah Daniel to come up big. I like the way he's been playing and I could see him making some big plays off the edge.

Saniflush: If you were the coach, how much would you play Jeremy?

That's a tough one. Honestly, it would depend on how the offense is performing. If they are rolling and in a rhythm I don't mess with it. If they get in a little funk I would probably change the pace and go to the throwing game for a series.

nhill76: Even though there are already 2 WR commits in this class, would the staff take Christian Kirk and Kirk Merritt if both wanted to commit?

I think you would almost have to take those two if both wanted to come, especially if you get a sense later in the year that either Sammie Coates or Duke Williams or both could be headed for the NFL. Getting two guys of that caliber would be hard to pass up.

alcar7: We are only 3 weeks in but who do you see as the toughest matchup for AU this season?

I continue to think Alabama is still going to be the toughest game at the end of the year, but LSU is quietly sneaking up the list for me. I like the way that defense is playing at the moment. This schedule is so tough that you could pick any of about six games and could make an argument for it.

au3020: With this game being in Kansas, what are the chances Braden Smith gets the start in the game? Could we see him maybe split time with Shon Coleman at LT?

Slim and none. He's not ready for that yet and Shon Coleman is the starter. Braden will see some time on special teams, but that's probably about it.

CB4AUBURN: In your opinion how vanilla has our offense been first two games?

I don't think the offense is anywhere close to as complex as Gus Malzahn can make it, but last season it was pretty basic all year long. The differences come in formations, which Auburn will likely show some new wrinkles against Kansas State. As far as opening up things, unless teams can take away the run you'll continue to see the Tigers pounding the ball on the ground.

aubtime: What is up with the DL recruiting. Who do you think we will get. Should we go JUCO because of our numbers next year.

I really believe the development of guys like Davonte Lambert, Devaroe Lawrence, Dontavius Russell and Gimel President have taken some of the need off the defensive line in this class, but it’s still a priority. I think two interior guys and one pass rusher are a must, but Garner isn’t going to stop recruiting some of the big guys including Trenton Thompson, Daron Payne, D'Andre Walker, etc.

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