Jason's Friday Mailbag: Ole Miss Week

Answering your questions as the Auburn Tigers prepare to face the Ole Miss Rebels in a Top Five match-up in Oxford.

howells: Do you see Swain and Williams moving back up the rotation at linebacker after last week?

I don’t think this is the week we wil see more of them with Ole Miss more of a passing team than running team. It’s a good fit for Swain with his safety background, but I think Justin Garrett is probably going to be the third guy again with Brandon King coming in as a pass rusher.

Jello1: Jason, are you surprised with the lack of playing time for Tre Williams and the emergence of Brandon King at LB?

I’m not surprised with Tre because of his lack of experience. Coaches always talk about playing freshmen, but it’s hard to pull the trigger for some guys and I think Ellis Johnson is one of them. King will be more of a pass rusher so the roles aren’t really related at this point. Garrett moving back to linebacker was the bigger move for Tre.

ATLTiger07: What are your thoughts on the initial Playoff Committee Rankings? What was your reaction to seeing Notre Dame so low?

I think the rankings were pretty spot on for the most part. Once you get through about the top six teams I thought the next six or seven teams were just a crapshoot. As for Notre Dame, I think they are about right. You have got to have some quality wins. Almost winning a big game isn’t enough for me.

TIGER45: Where are you and Mark staying in Oxford? Do you ever see Alex Kozan? If so how does he seem to be doing?

Not staying in Oxford this time. We are staying on the road back Saturday night. It is long of a drive to make the full trip back on Sunday. As for Kozan he seems to be doing fine. I talked to him on Saturday and he looks good.

tinye: Do you think Duke Williams has had an impact on the receivers this year? Duke "goes after" the ball and it seems to me that Sammie Coates, Jason Bray etc. seem to be more aggressive going after the ball this year.

There is no question in my mind that Duke has had a big impact on the wide receivers this season because of his work ethic on the practice field and effort in the games. I think as much as anything Duke’s competitive fire has pushed all the guys in the room to get better. With the way he’s playing guys either have to step up or get left behind.

AUpoker: Are you buying or selling??? 1 Bo Wallace 2 Gator defense vs uga offense 3 Miss St. running the table

I’m on the fence on Bo Wallace. I was never sold that he was a star quarterback, but he is what he is and that is a guy capable of making plays. HIs key is pressure. Put pressure on him and Auburn can do some good things. If the Tigers can’t get to him he’ll put up some big numbers. As for No. 2 I’m buying the Florida defense. I’ll take that talent and two weeks for Will Muschamp to put a plan together. No. 3 I’m selling Mississippi State. They are a solid team, but I don’t think they are a national title team.

WSlay: Barring no injuries, do you see the starting OL line-up remaining the same throughout the season? LSU wore down OM last Saturday, do you see us putting extra emphasis on pace to make sure the same occurs this week?

As of right now I think the offensive line is going to stay put if they keep playing like they did last week. The group put together a very solid performance in the win over South Carolina so there is no reason to change at the moment. The good news is Pat Miller is ready if he is called upon.

alcar7: Of what you've seen, who's the best team in college football? Who's the best offensive player you've seen? Defensive?

I don’t really think there is one top team in college football. It will all depend on a given day in my opinion. Mississippi State has earned the right to be No. 1, but I don’t think the Bulldogs are just a shoo-in. They are a solid team, but I don’t think they will get through unscathed. As for the best offensive player I would go with Amari Cooper. He’s having a ridiculous year. On defense it’s probably Hau'oli Kikaha from Washington. He’s got 14 1/2 sacks this season and is a terror.

Dewsweeper: Any chance we run it between the tackles 45 times this week? This could be a spot where Peyton Barber (even though he has hardly played) and CAP combine to pound it over and over, with Roc and Cory for a change of pace.

I think there’s a good chance the Tigers will continue to do what they do on offense, and that’s run the ball. If Auburn can control it enough to run it 45 times that would probably be the perfect scenario. I look for Roc to get some of the touches between the tackles. He is not a speed-sweep guy like Corey. He’s a true tailback.

gtwstock: Do you see Raashed Kennion getting more playing time now that he is healthy and we are still trying to dial up the outside pass rush?

I think Kennion could be one of the guys they look at to try to get some pass rush. I really like what Brandon King brings to the table with his speed and burst off the edge.

aubtime: Speaking of pass rush. McKinzy seem to have the size and speed to play DE on passing downs.Do you think he would be better than King.I love the way King tackles but 213 is small for DE.

Ole Miss has a pretty good defense and they have two defensive ends that share time on every down and both are in the 220 range. Just rushing the passer I think King has plenty of size to come off the edge and use his speed.

cletisthecat: Do you ever have time to play 18 at AUC during the season?

We don’t have much time to get out and play right now. Usually 30-45 minutes a few days a week for a walk is about the extent of it at the moment. I did get to play during the first bye week though so that was very enjoyable.

rosebud: Do you think Ole Miss will be able exploit the Auburn defense the way USCe did?

I think if Ole Miss decides to throw caution to the wind and go for it on fourth down then the Rebels will have a very good shot to put up some big numbers, but I don’t expect that to happen. There is no question South Carolina did some good things on offense against the Tigers, but without the go-for-broke attitude from Steve Spurrier the Gamecocks probably score 14-17 points in the game. I expect Auburn’s defense to play well at Ole Miss.

CB4AUBURN: Who is your MVP on offense and defense for Auburn so far? Are you surprised about the Gurley decision pertaining when he gets to be eligible? Also, would Jimbo or handled it any different? Is Jimbo counting the days until Jameis is done at FSU? Will ITAT Radio continue after football season.

Jonathon Mincy is a senior cornerback for the Tigers.

My MVP on offense so far would be Nick Marshall. While not to 65 percent, he’s completing 58.3 percent of his passes and has 11 touchdowns with only three interceptions. He has shown improvement in his decision-making in the passing game and is doing a good job with the run as well. He is currently leading the team with seven touchdowns and is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.

On defense it’s probably Jonathon Mincy. Even though Jonathan Jones has a ton of interceptions, Mincy isn’t allowing too many plays and teams are staying away from his side more often. When they don’t he more often than not makes a play.

As for Gurley I’m not surprised at all. If he had never said anything he would have been playing much sooner. You can believe at Florida State they wouldn’t have said a word and just kept playing like they have done all season long. As for ITAT Radio we will continue to do it until the summer.

TexasTiger02: Is Auburn going to follow LSU's road map and run it 45 times right directly at Ole Miss?!? Is good Bo or bad Bo going to show up?

I think Auburn is definitely going to try to be physical running the football and much of that will be right at Ole Miss to try to negate its defensive speed. As for Bo it all depends on how much pressure Auburn can put on him. If he gets time then he’ll do some good things throwing the football.

TexasTiger02: Is Ole Miss's defense going to be better than our offense... seeing how we struggle on offense for away games? Who is the best player on Ole Miss's team? Which unit on their defense is the best?

I think it’s going to be a great matchup. I’m not sure how much I would call it struggling against Mississippi State--just execution problems in the red zone and two fluke turnovers early. Kansas State had a great plan, but I think Auburn was still trying to figure things out back then as well. As for the best player, I think it’s Tony Conner. I really like him from the safety spot. The secondary is the strength of the defense IMO.

aunatchamps: Looking at depth on the DL for next year and an abundance of OL, do you see any OL switching to DL to give us some depth.I know it usually is the opposite way due to speed, but we need bodies on the DL.

No. I think Auburn’s depth should be pretty good when you consider you have Montravius Adams, Dontavius Russell, Devaroe Lawrence, DaVonte Lambert and Elijah Daniel that will all likely be inside next season. Outside you should have Carl Lawson, Gimel President, Raashed Kennion, Justin Thornton, Andrew Williams and Keymiya Harrell. That’s not counting any of the signees this year.

aunatchamps: Coach Pearl has been very successful recruiting so far. Do you see us adding one or two recruits to this next class, and who do you think is/are the most likely?

Nothing would surprise me about Bruce Pearl at this point. They could definitely add another player to the list, but I'm not sure there is anyone likely at the moment. Point guard Terrence Phillips is a player who visited for the camp and has some offers, but I'm not sure he's going to get an offer at this point.

alcar7: I haven't been able to rewatch film but can you explain why we all of a sudden had great success on the jetsweep with Ricardo? Was it as simple as execution as I know blocking was solid or was it also breaking tendency on first down, formation, etc?

I think the biggest reason for Auburn’s success running outside last week was due to the blocking on the edge. Several times against Mississippi State the Tigers had opportunities for sizable gains, but a breakdown in blocking turned them into short gains or even losses. That wasn’t the case last week.

tigercpa: Which freshmen appear to be being redshirted?

The guys headed for a redshirt are Sean White, Kamryn Pettway, Myron Burton, Chris Laye, Jakell Mitchell and Stanton Truitt (injury) on offense. On defense the redshirt group includes Dontavius Russell, Andrew Williams, Justin Thornton, DeShaun Davis, Joseph Turner, Markell Boston and Kalvaraz Bessent.

aunatchamps: One position change I would like to see is on our punt team. We have 3 blocking backs/big guys that have no chance to make the tackle on a return. (shades of Alabama fat boys on the missed field goal return) Why don't we put 3 linebackers(big enough to block) but with much better speed to tackle a punt returner if necessary. Any chance of this happening?

The spread punt formation is designed to have all quick cover guys up front so you can afford to have three blockers in front of the punter. Having those three guys on the field hasn’t had an impact the last few years on the Tigers covering punts. If the punter does his job they shouldn’t have to worry about making a tackle.

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