Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column

Jason Caldwell answers questions about the Auburn Tigers as they prepare to face the Louisville Cardinals in the season opener.

coreyc: Someone mentioned that this would be one of our best OL in recent years this season. In the years you've been following AU, what would you consider to be our best OL as a whole & who were those 5 guys?

It’s tough for me to beat the 2010 group for what those guys did on the field every week. Ryan Pugh at center, Mike Berry and Byron Isom at guard, and Lee Ziemba and Brandon Mosley.

ATLtiger07: Based on what you've seen so far, do you think Cowart will have more, less or similar impact during his freshman season as Carl Lawson did his freshman year?

Two years ago Carl Lawson finished the year with 20 total tackles, four sacks and seven and a half tackles for losses. I don’t see any reason why Cowart won’t have similar numbers by the end of the year. He’s going to be in the rotation at defensive end and should make some plays.

upfront: RB's...do you see the viable possibility of four (4) sharing the detail, in some fashion?  RT, JR, PB, & KP all have attractive running skills and talents, per the coaches...it seems that way to me, anyway.

I think all four guys will see action this season and especially early in the year, but Gus Malzahn has always wanted to find one guy to carry the load and I think that will be the case again this year, although it could take a little longer.

gtwstock: I'll limit your choices by saying the CB's are off limits....but who is the first safety off the bench behind Rudy Ford and Tray Mathews?  And how close to being ready to play a significant number of snaps is that person?

Probably Nick Ruffin or Stephen Roberts and that would depend on which safety spot it was. Both are improving and have done some good things in fall camp.

auroy: Jason, the other day you picked Ricardo Louis as a very possible first round NFL selection next spring. What has he shown you so far that leads you to make this prediction? Do you think he will eclipse Duke as AU's WR1?

I said I would be surprised if Ricardo wasn’t taken in the first two rounds. That’s simply because of his physical skills and development at the WR position. He’s 6-2, 215 and runs a legit 4.4. It’s impossible to teach that size and speed. He’s stepped up his game this fall and I think he’s going to have a big year.

Jason Caldwell

Ricardo Louis is a player to watch for the Tigers in 2015 

jimbo15: How concerned are you on the first game?We all know that Petrino is an offensive guru....  what 'wrinkles' do you expect - if any?Does AU win comfortably?

I think there should be some concern because Petrino is one of the best gameday coaches I have ever seen along with Malzahn. Both can take advantage of weaknesses, which means I think Louisville will try to find someone to target in the secondary and try to put the young guys on the field by using four or five wide receivers at times.

Saniflush: With Tyler Queen probably headed for a redshirt, could you give us your evaluation of how he is developing?

I think Tyler Queen has a chance to be a really good quarterback. He’s a big kid, but he’s athletic and understands football. He’s someone to watch in a year or two.

autigerman: Eight receivers in the rotation...who ya got?

I think you have a solid first few guys of Duke Williams, Ricardo Louis, Marcus Davis and Melvin Ray with Jason Smith also in that mix. After that Tony Stevens, Stanton Truitt and Myron Burton would be the next three in my opinion.

wtbtiger: Who will be the punter? Will our overall special teams be in the top 5 in the SEC?

I believe Kevin Phillips will get the first opportunity to be Auburn’s punter. He’s done a solid job in fall camp with his consistency. As for Auburn’s special teams overall I see no reason why it can’t be a team strength.

AUBIE95: Defense - Besides Muschamp, I'm also excited because we actually have some upperclassmen and returning starters sprinkled throughout most of the front 7 and back 4.  Now the question:  When was the last time that you can remember that AU had as much SEC-level talent and depth at the Linebacker spots?

I think in terms of talent it’s probably the most since 2003, but they’ve got to produce to earn a spot over 2004, 2010, etc. That year you had Karlos Dansby, Dontarrious Thomas, Travis Williams, Antarrious Williams, Derrick Graves, etc. That’s a pretty strong group.

aubtime: If the RB get 40 carries how you see them split up.

I think Roc Thomas will get 12-15 carries with Peyton Barber and Jovon Robinson both getting 8-10. I’m also expecting Ricardo Louis and Jason Smith to both get some touches as well with Kerryon Johnson possibly getting a few carries.

bigplayer2404: Do you feel the current depth on the DL will be enough to keep opposing O's off the field throughout the year? Do you see us doing more passes to the RB when options 1,2,3 aren't open?

I believe Auburn’s depth is sufficient right now, but they need to avoid injuries in the middle without question. Playing the 3-4 should help some of the depth concerns, but Montravius Adams and Dontavious Russell need to stay healthy.

DRJ75: Jason, How many LB'ers do you expect to play against the Cardinals and who are they...?

I think they’ll stick with four linebackers against the Cardinals in the base defense, Cassanova McKinzy, Justin Garrett, Kris Frost and Tre Williams, but I think you’ll also see JaViere Mitchell when they add the third linebacker.

Rick4AU: After seeing Tre Williams last year, I would have sworn he would be a starter going into this year.  Do you think he's been a victim of the coaching change, other players like Javier Mitchell and Justin Garrett stepping up, or him not progressing into the player we all thought him to be?  I know he'll get playing time, so not asking the question from a standpoint of thinking Tre won't produce for us this year, just somewhat surprised he's not running with the 1's

Tre is progressing fine, but you’ve got a ton of experience from McKinzy and Frost. With Garrett stepping up his game that has meant more competition there. Tre will play plenty of snaps for the Tigers this season and could be a starter

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