Jason's Friday Mailbag: Samford Week

Answering your questions as the Tigers prepare to face Samford this weekend at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Reese Dismukes (above), a four-year starter at center, is one of the players who will be honored on Senior Day on Saturday.

howells: After you have watched a bunch of Friday football. Who is that guy on our commit list that we don't talk enough about that has had a great senior year. Maybe even an uncommitted guy that you have seen who has a chance to be a name people remember.

I think Kaleb Kim is going to be a fun player to watch down the road for the Tigers and he could play any of the five positions on the offensive line. The interesting thing about him is that he’s a really good defensive lineman and could probably play that in college if needed. As for an uncommitted player I think JaMarius Henderson from Dale County could be a steal for someone. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kentucky took the running back after his monster senior season.

washingtonandleewareagle: What redshirt players could you see stepping up and contributing next year?

There are several of those guys I think will contribute a bunch next season. One is tight end Jakell Mitchell. He will be more of the C.J. Uzomah type of player, more of a receiver, but he has serious skills. I think he will be a tough matchup for defenses because of his ability to run after the catch.

Another one is Kamryn Pettway. I really believe he will be a very good option if he is moved to fullback/H-Back. On defense Dontavius Russell is the guy for me. He has got a chance to start at defensive tackle.

Dewsweeper: Who do think has been our most consistent offensive lineman? My choice is Avery Young. Who's yours?

No doubt for me it has been Reese Dismukes. He is one of the best I have ever seen on Auburn’s offensive line. I would probably go with Young after him, but there is no question who is number one for me.

SalemTiger: Do you think we will correct the mistakes we have been making since the Ms St game ( fumbles and penalties ) and give spuat a competitive game ?

I think these Auburn players have a complete game in them. They haven’t been close to that since LSU, but it’s in there somewhere. Next week would be the time to bring it out. It’s all about executing and confidence right now. That is why this week is important.

wcvet: Was the beat down in Athens more about a tired team or poorly prepared one?

I really believe the Tigers hit a wall last week in Athens. Already beat up on defense, they couldn’t get off the field in the second half and for some reason the back seven hasn’t rotated guys as much as they did early in the year. I have been expecting to see more is new faces at linebacker and in the secondary. Just giving those guys a break would have helped, at least some, in my opinion.

coreyc: I feel like Jason probably won't do this because of his professionalism but I'll ask anyway: If you had to rank the performance of each of these personnel groups from best to worst through the first 10 games, how would that ranking look: QBs, RBs (including Fulse), WRs (including Uzomah), OL, DT, DE, LB, Safeties (including Star), CB

I’ll rate them by offense and defense. For me I think the top group has been quarterbacks with Nick Marshall and a little bit from Jeremy Johnson. Overall they have played well. The running backs have been right behind them because of Cameron Artis-Payne. He has had a really solid season, but not much else from the position this year makes it somewhat of an incomplete. The lack of production from Corey Grant has probably been one of my biggest surprises.

The wide receivers have been really good at times with Duke Williams the most productive and consistent. While several other guys have had big games, too many drops this season have kept them from really taking a huge step forward. Next up is the offensive line group and tight ends from the blocking standpoint. At times Auburn’s offensive line has been dominant, but too often the running game has been stopped on third and short, something that was unheard of a year ago. Also, there have been too many penalties from the two groups this season on key plays.

On the defensive side of the ball I think the cornerbacks have been the top group with Jonathon Jones having a solid year with the exception of a few key penalties. Jonathon Mincy was playing at a very high level the first half of the season, but hasn’t been the same guy the last three or four weeks while playing at less than full speed health-wise. Trovon Reed and T.J. Davis have added some solid depth.

After that I would go with the linebackers. They have increased productivity and at times have been very good, but there are still way too many missed tackles and alignment issues for the group in year two of the system. The defensive line comes after that because of the lack of production behind the line of scrimmage. There have not been enough plays made by the group. After the defensive front come the safeties. There is no question in my mind they have struggled more than any group on the team this year.

aunatchamps: Do you think Carlson will be the only punter we use in the Alabama game? If we need one, and don't score every time we get the ball?

My guess is he will probably get the call unless it’s in a pooch punting situation. He’s been more consistent than Jimmy Hutchinson, but far from a sure thing himself. It’s probably one of the biggest issues on the entire team and will have to be addressed in a big way before next season.

wtbtiger: Do you think that having both coordinators on the field is a plus or it doesn't make any difference?

I don’t think it really makes a difference as long as the coach is comfortable with where he is. To me it’s all about the preference for the coach. Ellis Johnson is in the press box and that is where he’s more comfortable. Rhett Lashlee has watched Gus Malzahn coach from the field and that is what he’s used to.

wtbtiger: Do you think there will be any changes on the offensive line? We got manhandled last week and bammer is more physical than Georgia

I’m not expecting any changes on the offensive line this week. I wouldn’t be shocked to see second-team center Xavier Dampeer get some snaps with the starters if the game is in hand. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Patrick Miller or Braden Smith get some snaps with the first group at left tackle although I am not sure it will happen, but if it does I think it will come well into the game.

sanderman: Who do you think will be the 2nd string QB next season: Sean White or Jason Smith?

I don’t think there is any question Sean White has a huge head start on backing up Jeremy Johnson. Being on campus and practicing with the offense has allowed him to get a good feel for what the Tigers do during the last few months. Smith and Tyler Queen will battle for the third spot in my opinion, but if he can’t make a move pretty quickly I think we will see Smith at wide receiver.

TIGER45: Do you see our defensive woes as stemming from schemes or personnel or both and what is your outlook for the future if no coaching changes are made?

I think most of the woes have come from personnel. Ellis Johnson didn’t forget how to coach and too many times it has been pretty simple plays that have gone for big yardage. Without being able to get to the quarterback in this day and age a defense doesn’t have many options to stop the opposition. I think mixing up the blitz more makes sense using more than just the linebackers.

upfront: Two Q's: *Will we see lots of new/different players (walk-ons, included) in the 2nd half (or when) in Saturday's Samford Game? *Is the team already getting geared up, preparing for bama, while readying for Samford?

That is definitely the plan for Saturday. If they can build a lead the coaches would love to get the starters out and let some young players get a bulk of the second half action. As for the team getting ready for Alabama this week, that’s not happening, but the coaches and especially the analysts have been busy getting the film broken down for Alabama. That’s a normal thing that is done so the coaches can get right to work for the next week early on Sunday morning.

au3020: Reading the ITAT newsletter I usually like to see the players listed who had playing time in that weeks game. I also use it as a depth chart. Over the past few weeks I have noticed Robert Leff placed ahead of Patrick Miller as the #2 right tackle. Has Leff passed Miller on the depth chart or is Miller so banged up he has been placed at #3 on the depth chart?

With Miller dealing with the injury they had Leff on the right side some and Braden Smith at left tackle. A healthy Patrick Miller is still probably the third tackle for the Tigers right now and the first guy up on either side.

justafanwde: Do you feel there is some sort of "Fracture" in the locker room? Seems like the focus/chemistry of this team took a nose dive about the time Whitehead was suspended.

I don’t think there is a fracture on this team at all. Sometimes a team just doesn’t play well. I think the Whitehead suspension caused a nosedive because this team wasn’t very experienced at safety and it just highlighted that flaw against teams who could make them pay.

aubtime: Could Coleman play guard or do you think he will improve on protecting the QB with speed rushers. He has to be a great blocker but maybe not quick enough to LT.

He obviously is physical enough to play guard, but I think he’ll be fine at left tackle the more experience he gets. I remember people saying Greg Robinson needed to move inside to guard as well following his first year of playing in 2012. I believe much of Coleman’s problems are just being rusty after essentially sitting out for four years.

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