Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column

Jason Caldwell answers questions about the Auburn football, basketball and baseball Tigers in this edition of his Friday Mailbag column.

wcvet: Which former AU QB does Sean White remind you of now that you have seen him on the field?

It’s a hard comparison, but it would probably be Stan White at the moment. I thought he was decisive with his throws and got rid of the ball quick on the short routes. He also showed better athleticism than people thought.


gtwstock: If we play mostly nickel vs SJSU Saturday, does Countess spend most of his time at Safety or Nickel?

My guess is Countess will probably be more at the nickel with Rudy Ford back at safety. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Countess start at safety again because he looked good there in the little time I saw him.


hoochtiger: Do you feel the coaches will open up the playbook this week or stay with a more conservative game plan offensively?

I think they have got to open up things if they want the offense to be ready for what’s coming up after the break. White needs the work throwing the football and the offense has to find a way to get the rhythm going. In my opinion the only way to do that is to let things fly.


Saniflush: Who do you think will be our starting LBs against KY?

That’s a very good question. I think it probably depends on how Tre Williams looks during the off week. If he’s ready to go and healthy my guess is you would have Williams and Justin Garrett as the starters again.


howells: If you were coach for a day. Who is the guy you move into the starting lineup that is ready to bust out? I have my eye on a running back who can play anywhere.

Mine would be Jeff Holland. I think he has shown the most explosion out of the guys coming off the bench and this team needs more pass rushing ability right now. That’s why it would be Holland for me.


BigTiger1: Do you expect Gus and the offensive coaching staff to be able to get this offense to the level they need to be to compete with the tougher teams left on their schedule, namely Alabama, UGA and Texas A&M?

I think that’s still to be determined. If it’s to happen they will have to be aggressive with their play calling on Saturday to see what they have got. Thinking it’s just going to come together without first doing it won’t work with a bunch of guys still trying to develop into a smoothly functioning offense.


wde2003: Do you think AU will try to incorporate more and more of a power running game going forward?

I don’t think there is any question this team will have to run the football to be successful. Even if they open up the passing game some with White the bread and butter is still going to be lining up and running the football.


earlc: Will they continue to shuttle receivers on and off the field like last week?

I asked Rhett Lashlee that this week and he said they are working to try to be able to run more plays without switching personnel on the field. I think it’s a must for an offense to really and truly get the tempo Malzahn is looking for.


CB4AUBURN: Assuming no injuries at QB, do you think JJ will start any more games this year?

I think Sean White is the guy for the Tigers at the moment. I didn’t see anything last Saturday that makes believe he won’t be able to handle it.


SAMFORDHALL: Why does it appear Auburn receivers are having problems getting separation from defenders or am I seeing things?

I don’t think it’s so much about getting separation as it is being put too many times in obvious passing situations. When that happens the defense is just sitting back and waiting, something that was especially the case last week against Mississippi State. Throwing the football more on early downs would give this team a chance to get more one-on-one situations.


Aub4life3: Oh man, I hate to go here Jason, but.... Do you have any feeling that there may be some kind of internal problems going on in the locker room and/or coaches room?

I don’t think there are any internal problems right now. When a team is struggling that’s the first thing people want to believe, but I think this group is working well together. Now they’re not happy with the way things are going, but so far I don’t see any problems.


cycletiger36: Do you think we will attack the middle of the field with our passing game vs. SJSU?  Do you think Gus needs to get back to having fun with the offense and special teams ala old Gus with the onside kicks, fumble rooskie, or the throw back to the QB pass?  Sometimes, the willingness to try a "trick" play seems to fire up a team, even if it doesn't work. Call me crazy, but I don't think that this team is far off from being able to win the next 3 games.

Auburn has already tried a surprise onside kick this season so they’ve done a little of that. More creativity with play calling should help and with so many former quarterbacks now playing wide receiver for the Tigers there are plenty of opportunities for the double pass, reverse pass, etc.


upfront: How will the four (4) RB's be used? Will TE's and HB's be targeted for passes?


I think you’ll still see Peyton Barber get more carries, but Kerryon Jonnson and Roc Thomas will probably get their touches as well. If Jovon Robinson can get full speed I still think he can make a contribution at some point this season. As for more throws to the TE/H-Back, right now Auburn isn’t completing many passes to anyone so more throwing should involve Chandler Cox and maybe Kamryn Pettway.


AugTiger: Recruiting has been pretty quiet but Auburn is currently ranked 21st with only 11 commits. When I look at all of the great recruiters on this staff, I have to believe that they will close really strong and Auburn will end up ranked at least in the top 10. Am I being too optimistic? Who are some of the key recruits to watch?

I don’t think it’s being too optimistic when you look at all of the big names still left on Auburn’s board. The Tigers have to help themselves by playing better the second half of the season. That should really help the recruiting efforts.


WOLFIE2002: Why have we not recruited a true dual threat Qb the last two years? We have fixed that with Woody. With our need for SEC DL why did we miss so badly the past 3 seasons and what is your feeling on if the top targets we are on are really interested or playing us?

Tyler Queen is absolutely a dual-threat quarterback. He can really run and would be more of a power guy on the read, but has pretty good feet, too. As for the defensive line Auburn hasn’t settled in the past two classes and has really gone for only top guys and it has cost them in terms of depth. They are in on a lot of really good players in this class and already have three committed. My guess is this class will be a good one on the defensive line.


adam36830: Do you think that we will see Jason Smith at Wildcat QB? Do you see Lashlee / Malzhan working to get the ball into Jason's hands more?

I thought we would see Jason get a few snaps there last week. Based on how much they like his playmaking ability and the need for big plays in this offense I would think No. 4 would get some chances.


AUBones: What's your take on why we haven't seen much, if anything, of Jovon Robinson?  I know there's been some injury talk but is there more to his absence?  This is not to take anything away from Peyton Barber who's done an outstanding job.

He injured an ankle the first week and has been working to get back to full speed. If you don’t practice and practice well on this level it’s hard to get your shot to play. I think it’s something Jovon is still learning right now.


Aupoker: You have a prediction on what our basketball team will do this year?

I believe the basketball team is going to be much better this season, but the key for me is getting Danjel Purifoy cleared to play. He’s a true difference maker that has NBA talent on the wing. This freshman group combined with transfers Kareem Canty and Tyler Harris make this team a threat right away to win more games than last season.


Krandor: Who do you think are the names to watch for the AU baseball coach?  How quickly do you think we get this done?

I still think Butch Thompson is the guy you make turn you down in this search. There are some others out there and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the name of Alan Dunn turn up. He’s the pitching coach from LSU, played at Alabama, and is originally from Gadsden. He’s really good.


greaser417: We are having trouble pass blocking, why do we run play action when everyone in the stadium knows we're going to pass? I'm talking about mostly in the 4th quarter when we had to score.

I am not sure why either. It’s a product of the system that many of the deep passes are off of play action. That is a big part of what Malzahn’s offense is built around and there are not too many four-wide sets with dropback looks.


wireblue: How do you think Golloway's departure will affect the team; i.e. do you see it as a negative or positive for the team that he has been let go?

I don’t think it will be a negative. If you get the right guy in I think this team has a chance to be solid next season. With so many newcomers on the pitching staff how well this team performs will be about how well those guys make an adjustment to life in the SEC.


givhandy: Given a hint of improvement last week, do you think it is probable/possible for this team to have a winning record this year?

I still think it’s very possible, but there  has to be a lot of improvement starting this weekend. If the offense can get close to what I thought it would be this season it would take a lot of pressure off the defense. With Kentucky and Arkansas very winnable games on the road and Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama at home this team has plenty of opportunities, but must get a lot better.


pl4au: Why do you think Gus is slow to adapt to a defense' adjustments to his offense? He does seem to identify the problem areas and emphasizes need to improve, however the offense looks like the same offense.

Normally it’s something that takes two or three weeks, but with the quarterback problems it really threw this group way behind. It’s just tough to develop and figure out an offense when you’re not getting consistent quarterback play.

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