Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell Answers Questions About Auburn Sports In His Mailbag Column

Answering your questions about the Auburn Tigers in this week's Mailbag feature.

hoochtiger: How do you feel the team will respond to Sean White being named the starter at Quarterback this week?

I don’t see any reason why this Auburn team won’t respond really well. Considering the way they’ve played the last 10 quarters this team shouldn’t be impacted by anything that happens in the way of lineup changes unless it’s in a positive way.


givhandy: I am not even sure what to ask at this point. Did anyone see this type of season playing out like it has so far? I know we are only 3 games in, but I have been completely deflated by this team's play. Carl's injury and JJ's on the field performances have left some big holes in this team. What are the chances of salvaging any semblance of a team getting better this year?

I definitely didn’t see the season starting out like this based on what I had seen from Jeremy Johnson in limited action the last two years. There is no question the offensive problems bled through to the defense in terms of extra possessions the first two weeks. Last week was a case of a team being defeated before it took the field in my opinion and I’m not sure why.

As for the chances of salvaging something this year I would be surprised if that doesn’t happen. With every game defensively there should be some improvement based on what we know and have seen from Will Muschamp. As for on offense, Gus Malzahn usually finds a way to the job done and I think the Tigers will find something that works.


DozerTiger: Do you think Sean White is prepared to run the entire offense or will Gus and Lashley have to give him a limited package? What changes do you think we will see on defense this Saturday - specifically which positions are likely to see a change in starters and who will start?

I think Sean White can run the entire offense, but I’m not sure that’s something you want to do in a first start against an SEC opponent. I believe you will see Auburn really emphasize the running game early and try to get the play-action game going. On defense I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new starter at Buck, at linebacker and at safety.


TheBandit10: Danjel Purifoy eligibility update?

Nothing at the moment. I think everyone is still hopeful that he’ll get cleared, but at this point there is nothing new with the Auburn freshman basketball player.


TIGER45: Do you know of any very good juco players in whom we have an interest?

Auburn is looking at several junior college guys right now with offensive tackles Garret Boles and Demetri Moore two key guys because of the need for help at the position. The interesting player to watch may be John Franklin from East Mississippi Community College. He’s a quarterback that transferred from Florida State. He’s athletic and if Auburn goes after a juco guy he may be it.


Fleagle: What is wrong with our OL? What is CG doing to get this unit functioning properly?

I think the offensive line has actually played pretty solidly so far even with the change in the lineup for game two. The problem has been not enough plays because of the turnovers nor enough of a willingness to run the ball by the coaches so far. I think putting more emphasis on the running game will help the offense get untracked.


auhoppa: What unit has been worse in your opinion; the Defensive Ends or the linebackers.  In your opinion is there any way to improve our play from those positions with the guys we have?

That’s a tough call. I would go with the linebackers right now because those guys are seniors and should be the strength of the defense right now. No question the defensive ends are really struggling, however, and I would like to see DaVonte Lambert move inside to tackle. I don’t think he’s moving well enough right now to play end as he continues to recover from his knee surgery.


upfront: How are AU Tigers backup QB's (JJ, JS, JW, TT) factored in and prepared...starting right now?

Tucker Tuberville is not factored in at the quarterback position other than being a scout team guy. Jeremy Johnson is still the No. 1 quarterback backup with Jonathan Wallace and Jason Smith both getting some snaps.


wtbtiger: Will sign more than one QB this year?

I think there is a chance of that. With Jeremy struggling like he has and Tyler Queen going through surgery it may make the Tigers push for a second guy in this class. It will probably depends on how well Sean White plays in his time as the starter and how Queen’s rehab goes.


Tiger82: How is Jeremy taking his demotion?

I’m sure it’s a big blow for him because it’s probably the first time in his life he’s ever failed at anything. He’s had off games before in high school, but this is a different thing entirely. It’s going to be a challenge for him, but if he can get the ship back on course it will make him a better player.


WarDamnBoom: In your interview with Stan White he said that Auburn just needs to run their offense on Saturday night with Sean White coming in because it has been proven that it works. While I agree that Gus's offensive system works, MSU is going to stack the line and force AU to pass the ball with a first time starting QB. My question to you is, is it possible for Auburn to really run their offense given that MSU is going to force Auburn to pass the ball to be successful?

Auburn has faced stacked boxes time and time again under Malzahn’s guidance and that includes 2009 when Chris Todd was at quarterback and wasn’t a running threat. You have to find other ways to run the football and that’s the challenge right now. The first order of business is to commit to the run early and try to establish something on the ground. I don’t think they’ve done that yet this season.


ATLTiger07: How would you evaluate the H-Back production so far?

I think it’s really an incomplete at the moment because the offense has been so out of sorts that is really impossible to take a lot from what they’ve done. I’m expecting them to be a bigger part of the offense with White at the helm with the throws to Chandler Cox and Kamryn Pettway something they can utilize while also trying to run the football.


bigplayer2404: #1: Have you ever seen this much talent look this disjointed on an AU team before on O?  #2: Do you see us ending up like CGC last year? #3: How did CGM not see this coming after 3 years with JJ?

I saw it just over 10 years ago. In 2003 you had an Auburn offense that was probably more talented than this one and it just couldn’t get it going early in the season. Once those Tigers got back to the basics of running the football the group got better. We’ll see if this team can find that physical edge it has been missing so far.

I think this team will turn things around offensively and if the defense can stay healthy it will have a shot to get better. As for not seeing it that’s one of the things about college football, you don’t have any preseason games. If you think the offense is going to be fine then you probably felt like the defense was better. Turns out neither are very good right now.


tigertail2: Lots of pre-season hype for Jason Smith.  Except of the TD that was called back, why hasn't he been involved as a receiver ?

Tough to get him involved when you’re not throwing the football well at all. There just haven’t been enough completions to go around at the moment. That’s the simple answer.


cycletiger36: All of the coaches indicated that we had a very physical fall camp, but Auburn is playing like a team that had anything but a physical camp.  Was our fall camp physical, or was that just coach speak?

From every indication it was a physical camp, but like I mentioned earlier I think they got a false sense of how good things were by going up against each other. We’ve seen through three games that neither side is playing very good, meaning they didn’t push each other as much as the coaches thought even though they were physical.


gmason73: Offensive philosophies run in cycles.  Once someone comes up with an offensive philosophy that works, others follow suit.  That's what we have with the HUNH offense.  However, defenses eventually catch up and make the offenses adjust.  In your opinion, given the struggles of our offense and similar struggles going on in Philadelphia with Chip Kelly's HUNH offense, have defensive coordinators begun to figure out how to defense the HUNH?

Ole Miss, Oregon, TCU, etc. all run the offense and are doing pretty good so far. No offense works if you don’t execute what is called. It’s just a pretty simple answer, but Auburn hasn’t executed the plays and turned the ball over too much. When that happens no offense works.

autigerman: Should we get the H back more involved in the passing game?

I definitely see that coming down the road this season. So far they haven’t been on the field a ton, but I expect them to get more playing time with the running game likely to get more work.


tigerflorabama; Which players do you perceive as the team leaders?  Do they have the moxie to rally the troops?

That’s a good question. No question Carl Lawson is one of the leaders on this team, but being out that really leaves a void in my opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a guy like Tray Matthews become one of the guys on defense. I believe it’s one of the problems on offense right now. Guys like Avery Young and Shon Coleman have to become those guys and let the offensive line lead the way.


koury: Some people at practices this fall said White should be starter to begin the season (Jack Crowe was one). Did you see anything to cause concern with Johnson heading into season?

I didn’t see anything of concern, but we don’t get to see nearly as much as we used to 10 years ago. That makes it a little tougher to see how guys are coming along in fall camp, something we used to be able to see. I don’t think the offensive coaches saw anything of concern though. Sometimes you can’t see things until live bullets are being fired at you.


bghayes: Rumors abound that we have some bad apples, if true will they be booted or benched or will they infect the barrel?

It’s the same story everywhere, when you’re losing those stories always come out. I’m sure there are plenty of guys not happy at the moment, but I would expect nothing different. If you’re not mad right now with how things are going then you’re probably in the wrong place.


wtbtiger: Is there a chance that dampener might take over at center and move Golson to guard or ? it sounded like damper had a good fall camp when Golson was hurt.

I don’t believe the offensive line has been the problem so far this season. The best thing for an offensive line is trying to build some continuity, which I would expect to see Saturday with the same lineup back on the field once again.

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