Jason's Friday Mailbag: Texas A&M Week

Jason Caldwell answers questions about the Auburn football team as they Tigers head into a home game vs. Texas A&M.

howells: How close do you think we are to being a good defense? It seems to me if we could have just kept containment responsibilites last week we could have really won the game pretty easily. Can we expect to see quick pressure the rest of the year? Do you think we can keep contain better and play with the same scheme or did we see a jump in pressure only because they were just going upfield as fast as possible?

I think Auburn is closer to becoming a good defense than it has been in quite a few years. Many of the problems continue to be with the safety position, something I think boils down to a lack of experience by the guys playing there right now. As for the pressure I think it was better last week against Ole Miss, but the offensive line for the Rebels is not a great one. Auburn will likely need to continue to blitz at times, but the ends have to be better at containment, especially with Blake Sims and Alabama in the last game.

Bobbybyrd: Do you think they will discuss making a rule that when a timeout is called for an injury, that that player will have to sit for the rest of that drive before he can come back in to play. This might keep fake injuries that are just to slow down HUNH teams although not sure it would because they could just put in a sub and tell him to lay down after the play

I don’t think it will ever happen because you could have a 13-play drive that lasts six minutes. No question that sometimes it definitely looks like a player is faking an injury, but there is really no way to absolutely determine that is the case. It is just, one of those things an offense will have to deal with in my opinion.

alcar7: What surprised you most on Saturday: finally getting a pass rush, poor tackling by DB's that had been sure tacklers, or the amount of stupid penalties? Follow up: the latter two haven't been a problem and can be remedied hopefully. Do you think we finally broke thru with the pass rush or was it the musical chairs OL of OM?

The penalties were probably the biggest surprise to me. Ricardo Louis getting a late hit on the sidelines is just something that happens when offensive players are on coverage teams because they ar i not used to making plays as often as defensive guys. As for the tackling I think it was partly on Auburn and partly on Ole Miss’ receivers being pretty good. As for the pass rush I think it was more Ole Miss than the Tigers, but they are getting better. Going to need to see them this week to see if it becomes a trend.

CoxeyTiger: How would you rank our toughest games this season? Especially wondering where K State, MSU and Ole Miss fall in relation to bama and UGA.

That is a tough one. I’m not sure Mississippi State is the toughest team Auburn has played to this point, despite the score. I really thought Kansas State was a more difficult game in terms of the matchup. The Tigers just handed the game to Mississippi State in the first five minutes and still had a shot to stay in there for much of the second half. I’m still inclined to think that winning at Alabama is going to be a very difficult thing for the Tigers in a few weeks, much like Ole Miss last Saturday.

WDavE: How are our DB's taught to deal with wide receiver screen blockers? It looks to me that our farthest outside DB's engage the blocker and try to keep outside leverage. Do they have the leeway to try and shoot through the block? I know this sounds strange but other teams sure look like they treat this differently. Especially when we run it.

It’s not so much the outside guys that are the problem. They have to keep contain and force the play back to the middle of the field. Right now it’s more a case of being outnumbered in the middle on several occasions and the safeties being out of position or taking the wrong angle. Teams are catching Auburn in blitz situations and basically letting the Tigers run themselves out of plays. Auburn needs to continue to put the pressure on, but maybe mix in more zone blitz schemes to avoid giving up the big plays.

KJTiger: What do you think is contributing to the increase in penalties? Is it effort plays or just not making good decisions? How are the coaches trying to deal with this trend? My thought is ever since Gus had his pow wow with redding the old yellow has been flying. May be just my paranoia.

There is no question the calls seem to be one-sided a good bit this year, dating all the way back to the Kansas State game. The lack of holding calls on Auburn’s defensive linemen has been just unreal this season. At least four or five blatant holds a game that aren’t being called. Last week Robenson Therezie was the victim of a chop block on, the perimeter for one of Ole Miss’ touchdown passes, but it wasn’t called. My guess is Auburn has gotten a reputation this season of being penalized and it makes guys look for calls, much like they don’t look for them with other teams. Now some were blatant (personal fouls) and those are hustle plays, but guys just have to be smarter in those situation.

aunatchamps: Which juniors do you think jump to the NFL at the end of this year?

Right now I think both Duke Williams and Sammie Coates are probably the most likely guys to go, but I’m not sure either are 100 percent at this point. It should be a very deep draft for receivers, making this decision a little tougher. Not sure anyone else is in a position to make the jump at this point.

AUviewpoint: What do you think is the ideal number of teams for a college football playoff, and if expended should Power 5 conference champs get an automatic bid?

My ideal number for a playoff would be eight teams. I go back and forth on allowing conference champions automatic bids. In some ways it’s great, but if you win a conference championship it should place you among the best eight teams in the country anyway. If it doesn’t then your entire season wasn’t good enough to include you in the playoffs in my opinion. The goal isn’t to be fair, it’s to find the best team in the country.

aumoneyman: How is K Harrell rehab going? Will he be back this season?

I think the rehab is going fine for him after ACL surgery, but he’s expected to miss the entire season. It’s a tough break too for a guy that could have really helped this team as a pass rusher.

wcvet: What our biggest needs on defense that will only be addressed through recruiting? What redshirt players have the potential to make an impact next year?

As for the biggest needs on defense addressed through recruiting it’s probably going to be among the group of Jordan Colbert, Elijah Sullivan and Montavious Atkinson. All three can play and are very athletic. With the Tigers needing help at the star and at safety positions I’m expecting at least two of them to make a run at playing time next season. The Tigers should get immediate help on the defensive line from the redshirt guys including Dontavius Russell, Andrew Williams and Justin Thornton. Don’t forget about Tray Matthews as well. He’ll have a chance to start at safety.

AugTiger: With Kyle Allen being the no.1 HS QB last year, what are his strengths and weaknesses and do you expect a big improvement in performance from his game last week?

Kyle Allen can really throw the football and is pretty mobile as well. I’m not expecting a huge amount of improvement for him this week being a first-time road starter, but it all depends on what Kevin Sumlin decides to do on offense. If they turn him loose he could make some plays, but the mistakes that would likely come with that may force the Aggies to play things closer to the vest once again.

gmason73: One of my favorite players is C.J. Uzomah. As a matter of fact, I think he has a future in the NFL. Why is he so rarely utilized in the Auburn offense?

The problem for C.J. is the abundance of weapons the Tigers have on offense right now. With Duke Williams and Sammie Coates outside along with Quan Bray, it’s tough to be a featured target right now for Uzomah. He will have his chances and gets targeted some in the red zone, but he’s just not going to be a guy they look at a lot with the other guys around him.

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