Jason's Friday Mailbag: Post-Spring Edition

Looking back on Auburn's spring football practice, standouts, question marks and much more as Jason Caldwell answers questions about Auburn sports.

alcar7: Who was the biggest surprise to emerge on both sides of the ball during spring?
For me on offense it was Austin Golson. I had no doubts that he was going to be a good center, but I wasn’t sure it would happen so quickly. I think he has got a chance to be really good by the time he’s done.

On defense I will go with Maurice Swain. He needs to help the Tigers right away, but I wasn’t sure if he would show much in the spring. He has still got to learn to consistently play lower, but it looks like he will be able to help early and that is huge for the defense.

CB4AUBURN: What's next? How much contact can the players have with the coaches? When do summer workouts start?
Auburn’s coaches are on the road with spring evaluations right now and the players are off as they get ready for final exams. After finals they will have a short break and then it’s back to work for the summer. The coaches can have some contact with the players over the summer, but the afternoon voluntary practice sessions with no coaches present are where the leaders step up.

carnellisanescalade: to this point, what's your honest opinion on the job Sunny Golloway has done, and the direction the program seems to be in? Is Auburn Softball slumping recently? Does Auburn have the pitching needed to win a title?
I think the baseball team is playing much better right now than it was early in the season and in my opinion they are a shoo-in to make the SEC Tournament. I also think the chance to make a regional is still very much on the table with 14-16 probably the mark. As for the direction of the program that still remains to be seen. If the Tigers can get to a regional that would be a step forward for sure.

As for the softball Tigers, I think they’re still fine and should do well this weekend and have a chance to win the SEC regular season title the following weekend at LSU. As for the pitching, I just can’t see them being good enough inside the circle to win the College World Series this year, but without a doubt the Tigers have made a huge amount of progress the past two seasons and are a fun team to watch.

Rick4AU: With all the praise Robert Leff has been receiving, do you see any way he could beat out Shon come game time? I'm a Shon fan like us all, but his pass protection struggled last year, and with us probably headed to more passing with JJ at the helm, just wondering if you could ever see a situation where Leff takes the spot.
I like Robert as a player and person, and I think he could get the job done, but there is no chance he takes Coleman's spot unless there is an injury. I think Shon is headed for a big year with some experience under his belt.

AUpoker: Now that spring practice is over, what do you see as Auburn's biggest concern going into fall practice?
No question for me the lack of depth in the secondary is the big issue, specifically at cornerback. Right now I think Stephen Roberts needs to continue to step it up to give the Tigers a solid No. 3 guy behind Jonathan Jones and Josh Holsey. The incoming freshmen are all going to have a shot to play.

auroy: Have there been any indications about Auburn's intentions when the current Under Armour contract expires in another year? In your opinion, will Auburn's primary focus be to make a new deal with UA, or truly exploring all available options to include the other 2 apparel companies?
Unless somebody else can come close to paying Auburn what Under Armour does at the moment then I don’t think it’s going to be an option. Right now I don’t see Nike or Adidas stepping up to the table like Under Armour has done for Auburn.

irontiger: Muschamp says the nickel back plays 75 percent of the time so the position is very important according to him, but he didn't mention Tim Irvin or Derrick Moncrief. Is he happy with those two guys? Who would be the depth behind them?
I think he’s happy with both of those guys at the moment. Behind them you’ve got JaViere Mitchell as the linebacker type and probably Josh Holsey would move inside if they needed another cover guy.

unalions: Who gets the most carries at RB against Louisville and against UAT, assuming no injuries?
I think Roc Thomas gets the most carries in the opener, but I could see Jovon Robinson being more of the workhorse by the end of the season. I do think there will be more of a committee this year than we’ve seen in a while with Peyton Barber also very much in the mix.

aubtime: Roc really played will in the A Day game (better than I thought he would). Barber really ran hard (running over a few defenders). We did not see much from Jovon but do you see jovon starting and does Barber not get any carries this coming year.
I think it may change from week to week next season, but I think Barber definitely has a larger role in 2015 than he did last year.

tunicatiger: Football - Can you ask the oline coach what he thought of Tyler Carr's performance against D Russell during the spring game? Basketball - TSD prognosis for resuming basketball activities and what will the likely hood be that either shoulder could come out of socket next year?
J.B. Grimes is on the road so I doubt I’ll be able to ask him specifically about A-Day for a while, but Carr did some good things in the spring and should be even better the longer he is in the strength and conditioning program. Grimes did mention that Carr has improved in the spring, but as would be expected for an early high school graduate he has a lot to learn. As for Tahj Shamsid-Deen, I think the prognosis is good for him. It is just going to be a slow-go for this offseason until both shoulders are healed. Tahj is a tough guy and the coaches have high expectations for his junior season.

wtbtiger: Is there any change in philosophy of conditioning this year? We did not seem as strong and bulked up as we have in previous years.
It’s the same strength and conditioning philosophy that Auburn had in 2013 when the Tigers dominated the opposition in the second half. In my opinion last season had little to do with strength and conditioning and more to do with a lack of defense killing the confidence of the team in the second half of the season.

alcar7: I know it's April, but as of now who do you predict to win the SEC West and SEC East? And who would be your sleeper picks in each division?
I like Auburn on one side in the 2015 SEC football races. I think this team has a better schedule to make a run in 2015 than it did last year and could have the best quarterback in the league. Those two things make the Tigers a threat. The schedule is the key on the other side as well, which makes Georgia or Missouri my two teams I expect to challenge for the SEC East title.

AUTIGER64INNC: Other than (Byron) Cowart and the early graduates, which freshman, in your opinion, has the chance to make the biggest impact this year?
My guess is that at least two of the three freshmen at corner will have to play some next season. That’s Javaris Davis, Carlton Davis and Jeremiah Dinson. Another one to watch is Montavius Atkinson at safety. I think he can get on the field early at least on special teams with the possibility of contributing in larger role as the season develops.

howells: What position does Burton play the most and does him being on the field take Ricardo Louis off in your opinion? He looked great outside the hashes but I think the way he runs routes he can play the slot too.
Burton made some good plays in the A-Day game, but I still don’t think he’s going to be a huge part of the offense just yet. He’s mostly an outside receiver and he could get some of the work Tony Stevens was slated for, but I still think Duke Williams, Ricardo Louis, Melvin Ray, Marcus Davis and probably Jason Smith are the main guys at receiver next season.

emmaus99: Who will win the job as punter?
I like the job that walk-on Kevin Phillips did this spring and in the A-Day game. He is not going to have a bunch of 50-yard bombs, but he has been consistent with his hang time and that is a big part of what Auburn wants as a punter.


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