Jason's Mailbag: Christmas Edition

Talking Auburn sports, recruiting and Christmas gifts.

Roc Thomas (above) is one of the running backs who will battle to take over the starting assignments for the Auburn football Tigers in 2015

alcar7: Assuming we have everyone back and healthy, what do you think the best OL lineup combination is? Also related, Avery Young is obviously versatile and super talented. What do you think his best position is for college and what do you think he'll play in the NFL?

I think the offensive line we saw against Alabama is probably the most productive option right now. This team is at its best when throwing the ball a little more than last year's team did and that means putting Patrick Miller back at right tackle. I like Devonte Danzey and I think he is a good player, but right now I think the latest lineup suits the Tigers a little better. As for Young I think he’s probably better suited for the guard position. I just like his athleticism there.

BambinoTiger: Have you heard what improvements are being considered for Jordan-Hare Stadium in the next few years? Talking mainly about structural improvements instead of game-day improvements.

The ideas being considered involve adding more premium seats, something in which the demand has outstripped the supply for many years. AU officials are considering additional suites and premium seating in both end zones, including some at or near field level. Don't look for a new upper deck in the end zones or any additions that would add a large number of seats like the previous major additions brought to the stadium.

DozerTiger: What will be Muschamp's base defense? What is his preference? I know he has run a 4-3 and a 3-4. I assume the 3-4 won't be an option next year given our returning talent.

He’s a multiple guy and I think Carl Lawson will give him the ability to run a base 4-3 and also jump into a 3-4 and stand him up on the edge. Getting a player like Byron Cowart would be huge because that would give you two of those types of players moving forward. I also think Raashed Kennion could be an interesting guy in the defense. He has some Carlos Dunlap qualities, which could be fun to see turned loose down the road.

Jello1: Who will be the number 1 Wide Receiver next year assuming Duke goes pro? Do you see that position as a possible stumbling block of Auburn winning the SEC when just considering the offense?

My guess is the guy would be Ricardo Louis with a bullet. I think he’s an NFL receiver in the making if he takes another step forward like he did this year. I don’t see the position as a stumbling block. You’ve got a lot of players who can make plays with Marcus Davis, Melvin Ray, Tony Stevens and Jaylon Denson. Throw in guys like Stanton Truitt and Myron Burton and I believe they will do just fine.

autigerman: Will there really be a QB battle next year for real?

I think there will be a competition because you want to make Jeremy Johnson earn the spot, but I would be shocked if he’s not the starter next season. Sean White won’t make it easy, but it’s going to be Jeremy’s job to lose.

Actman: Regarding Basketball - I am getting 13 projected scholarship players (counting Thompson) for 2015-16 roster. That includes four 2014 early-period signees but not Horace Spencer. Spencer would be 14 (one over max). I know down the road but how do you see this shaking out? And, personally, I would like to see Auburn add another athletic "big" for 2015-16. We do not have any in that 6-10 to 6-11 range. Xavier had three at 6"10"+ they rotated. We had only Trayvon. Got CinBow in foul trouble early. What is your feeling about numbers and another "big" for next year.

The plan is to bring Spencer in as a spring period signee. Auburn wants to add him to the class and if that happens it will mean somebody on this year’s roster won’t be back next year. He would be the other “big” for the team even though he’s probably 6-8 or 6-9. Along with Reed that would give you some of the length you need. If he doesn’t come Auburn will go elsewhere looking for a big man in the class.

howells: What was your favorite Christmas gift to ever receive?

That’s a tough question. I’m not really sure I have one favorite thing, but probably the most important came from my grandmother. In 1981 she saw an ad for a new magazine covering Auburn sports and decided to get me a gift subscription. That began a long running connection with Inside The Auburn Tigers that eventually led to me being here.

Avery Young has stepped up his game for the Tigers

CaliTiger09: With Muschamp getting on the field for bowl practices, is it enough time for us to see a visible difference in the defense in the bowl game?

I’m not sure there will be a huge visual difference in terms of schemes, but I’ll be very surprised if you don’t see a different energy level on the field from the Tigers. That is something Muschamp will be preaching to his guys and knowing they are playing to impress him should rub off on the team against Wisconsin.

aunatchamps: Who will be our punter next year?

Daniel Carlson has done a pretty solid job considering it was thrown on him at the last minute. Incoming freshman Ian Shannon is really talented and could make a run, but walk-on Kevin Phillips from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College may be the guy to watch. He’s expected to be in during spring practice and will have an opportunity to show what he can do. He averaged 39.9 yards per punt this season for the Bulldogs.

AUfred: Would love to read more comments from the seniors & Coates about their last game as an Auburn player.

We will have more thoughts from a few guys leading up to the game when we get to Tampa. Hopefully, that will include several more seniors from both the offense and defense.

Cweb4AU: Your best guess, does Duke play in the bowl game?

If I had to guess right now I’ll say no. Holding him out of practices all of last week makes me believe there is more to his injury than we thought. With the team at home this week it has been quiet, but we’ll probably get a pretty good idea when the team reports on Dec. 26 in Tampa.

bkatiger: If Jason Smith has been playing quarterback in JUCO how easily will he be able to transition back to wide-receiver for us next year? It's an area we will have need at and unless I am forgetting something he was more than likely playing wide receiver for us out of high school.

I don’t think it would take Smith too long to transition to wide receiver if he makes the move. I saw him play quarterback as a high school senior and then earn MVP honors in the Alabama-Mississippi game at wide receiver after just six practices at the position. He’s a natural athlete and could make a pretty smooth transition.

adam36830: Who do you see as a potential player to step up on defense with Will Muschamp as DC? Do you see a player that might not fit into Will's scheme?

Stephen Roberts is a good candidate. I think he has got all the tools to be a really good cornerback if he sticks at the position. As for guys not fitting in, one thing about great coaches is they tailor their defense to the talent around them. You do what your guys do the best. That’s what Muschamp will try to do.

justafanwde: What do you feel will be the final disposition with CRG? We wanted him for years, finally got him and now with this welcomed DC change what are we going to do with him?

He could still be coaching the defensive line next year for the Tigers. That’s a possibility. There is also a possibility he could coach just one position on the line with a coach brought in or he could even move to coach a position on offense, something he has done before working with tight ends.

wtbtiger: Will we see JJ early in the bowl game or will we only see him if the game is in the bag?

Much like the regular season I don’t expect to see a whole lot of Jeremy Johnson. The coaches could have a special package of plays in for this game and may use him in that capacity, but I’m not expecting extensive work.

paau98: If you were to guess might we see a change in special teams coordinator?

Nothing would surprise me when you have coaching changes in involved. If there is somebody who wants to coach that position and that’s the key to joining the staff then I could see Malzahn makes some moves. This season the group struggled, but much of that was on the punting and that is not something a coach can usually fix other than bringing in new players. You either have it or you don’t and the only thing that helps is experience.

TexasTiger02: If you had to name two players that Will was recruiting before he became an Auburn a Tiger... That he'd be able to land on the first Wednesday in Febuary... Who would they be?

One of those guys is Cowart. I think Auburn will have a shot to get him when all is said and done. The chance to play early for the Tigers is a real possibility and he likes Muschamp.

TexasTiger02: Can you please give us the plus and minuses of Barber, Roc, Keyron (sp?), and Jovon! How would you rank them?

It’s tough to rank them because we haven’t seen enough of them on this level to make comparisons just yet. As for strengths I think Roc is a complete back capable of doing everything you need to be successful. Barber is a physical runner who also has good hands. O am not sure about his top-end speed at this level because we haven’t seen it yet. Jovon is a bruising, physical runner, but sometimes that means trying to make every play a home run. That leads to putting the ball on the ground at times. We’ll see how he does with that this spring. As for Kerryon, he is just a ball player, a kid who can do anything and I expect him to be a great fit in the speed back role, but he can also run between the tackles on occasion. This should be a pretty good group together.

JV2007: Which one or two incoming OL freshmen do you or maybe expect to be a starter next season? How many ham sandwiches are you planing on indulging in the next few days?

I don’t expect any of the incoming freshmen to be a starter next season. Auburn’s offensive line still has plenty of talent and enough depth to get the job done. As for ham sandwiches, I’ll stick to turkey.

TexasTiger02: Can you name the players who you think will be at DT or NT next season? What would you rank this years receiver corp compared to next years receiver corp? (A,B,C,D,F) Do you think our current defensive coordinator realizes that Wisconsin is a one dementional team? Besides Wisconsin's RB... Who is Whisky's next best player?

Starting with the interior defensive line, I see Montravius Adams, Dontavius Russell, Devaroe Lawrence and Maurice Swain for sure. After that you could have either Davonte Lambert, Elijah Daniel or both. You’ll also have Jauntavius Johnson from the high school ranks and I expect them to sign at least one more true tackle.

I think it’s going to be tough for next year’s receiving group to match this year’s in terms of top talent, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done. Ricardo Louis is as talented physically as anybody on this team. If he continues to improve I think he can be an All-SEC type of player. Marcus Davis is going to be steady and solid, and a key in my book.

Derek Landisch is probably the best player other than Melvin Gordon for the Badgers. At 6-0, 231 he’s a playmaker on defense with nine sacks and 16 tackles for losses at linebacker.

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