Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell answers questions about Auburn sports in this edition of his mailbag column

Jason Caldwell of Inside the Auburn Tigers answers questions about Auburn football, basketball and softball in this edition of his mailbag column.

Cassanova McKinzy (above) is a key player for the football team's defense.

bigplayer2404: Who do you expect to get the most snaps at QB against UK? Who do you expect to get the most touches at RB against UK? Who do you expect to start at Buck against UK? What % chance do you see this Auburn team turning it around vs. losing all but the Idaho game?

I still think Sean White is the guy at quarterback, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jeremy Johnson get some snaps to see what he can do. At the moment I would be shocked if Peyton Barber doesn’t get the most touches at running back. As for the buck position I think that is Cassanova McKinzy's for a while. As for the percentage of turning it around, I will know after the first quarter Thursday night.


carnellisanescalade: We lost 3 seniors from the softball team: How do we replace those three seniors in the outfield, what does the pitching staff look like for this year, and should I go ahead and book a room in OKC?

You only lose two seniors in the outfield, Tiffany Howard is back and will make the move to center field. Juco transfer Maria Mitchell from Opelika is someone to watch. She can really run and has plenty of skills.


wcvet: How does the number of 4th and 5th year players on this team compare with the 2010 and 2013 SEC champion teams?

If my count is correct Auburn had 16 scholarship fourth or fifth year players that had been at Auburn the entire time. This year’s team has 16 as well if I counted correctly. This team isn’t much different in terms of the numbers of older guys, but how many are playing key roles is another story.


HoustonTiger: What do you think the Astros chances are in the playoffs? I feel we can probably hang with KC and possibly take that series, but not so hopeful after that.

I like Houston’s chances after a game one win. Knowing former Auburn signee Colby Rasmus makes me root for the Astros.


eagle70: Give me your over/under on amount of wins for this years Auburn's basketball team?

I would set the over/under for this year’s team at 17. I think somewhere around that would be a pretty good year number two for Bruce Pearl because of the strength of schedule.


getigerfan: Has anybody on the DL got the drive to standup and be a difference maker.  I know Adams has worked hard but i still haven't seen him blow up a QB yet.  Can Andrew Williams really contribute at DE or is it just threatening the others trying to get some more out of somebody.?

I think Montravius Adams is the guy, but he has got to get more help from the other guys up front to take away the constant double teams. I think Cassanova McKinzy could be the most important player on this defense right now because of his potential to make big plays. As for Andrew Williams I think he’s a guy who has the ability to contribute. We will have to see if he can turn it loose if he gets the opportunity.


Jason Caldwell

Montravius Adams has been one of the few consistent players on the defensive line.

TIGER45: Were you surprised that CWM is considering playing Juantavious Johnson next week? Was not he thought to be a bit of a project? I don't know whether to be encouraged that he may be making big progress or absolutely terrified.

I was really surprised to hear Johnson’s name called, but he made the trip to LSU so it wasn’t completely out of the blue. I would still be surprised if we see him play and if we do it means either Maurice Swain or Devaroe Lawrence are not getting the job done.


Saniflush: Do you think Purifoy will be cleared to play BB this year? What can you tells us about the situation? If he only took the ACT once, but got flagged for it being too high, why can't they decide that he is a smart guy that played BB instead of studying?

I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen with freshman basketball player Danjel Purifoy. He’s practicing so I think Auburn officials feel like they’ve done everything on their end. Now it’s up to the clearinghouse to make a decision.


upfront: Will AU throw more? And, on 1st down?

I think they will throw it more and earlier vs. Kentucky, but I thought the same thing going into San Jose State and the Tigers finished the game with just 10 passes.


carnellisanescalade: If you were a betting man, would you bet that the Men's Basketball team would make the Dance this year? What are the expectations of the Women's team, and is Coach Flo on the hot seat?

I wouldn’t bet on the Tigers making the NCAA Tournament just yet, but I think they’ve got a shot if everything comes together. This is a more talented team than I have seen in quite a while at Auburn. As for the women’s team I think it will have a chance to be a little better, but in the SEC that doesn’t help a whole lot. I think Coach Flo's Tigers need to make improvements this year, but I don't have any reason to believe she is on a hot seat.


hoochtiger: Who do you think could potentially be the breakout player, offensively and/or defensively,  going into the second half of the season?

We discussed our potential offensive breakout players in a 2 Minute Drill that we posted on Thursday. We will have our defensive guys on Monday. No spoiler alerts.


Do you feel like the Duke dismissal will rejuvenate the team at all?  I feel it will be a good thing, and it will spark a few players to perform well.  On that note, is Gus just waiting on Jeremy Johnson, and will the dismissal of Duke help Jeremy in any way?  I would like to see Jeremy come back as the starter SOON...not because I don't believe in Sean White but because I believe that heavily in the talents of Jeremy Johnson.

I don’t think Duke’s dismissal is a negative, that’s for sure. How much of a positive it will be remains to be seen, but I think it can be a boost. The way things have gone the last two weeks I just believe the coaches are waiting on Jeremy Johnson to snap out of his early season funk. He’s got the talent to be special and probably will get another look at some point this season.


ATLtiger07: Who do you think should be (or is) the #1 recruit on the board for Gus right now?

No question in my mind it’s Rashan Gary. The nation’s top-rated prospect and an athletic defensive tackle, he is an immediate impact player and may be good enough to be a freshman starter for the Tigers.


©M. Samek / SCOUT

Rashan Gary is a prospect who would be a huge get for the Auburn Tigers.

Tiger82: Is Muschamp using or considering using the rugby style of tackling?

I think they are using some of those tactics with Muschamp and Dan Quinn very close. He’s the guy that did a lot of that with Seattle and now Atlanta so it stands to reason Muschamp is probably at least taking a look at what he’s doing.


auchamps: Do you foresee any football coaching staff changes after the season? Particularly the defensive line coach?

That’s still to be determined in my opinion because until this season goes either good or bad there’s really no way to know. If the team limps home then I would expect some sort of moves after the year. That’s just usually the way things are done.


fatstick: What is holding DeShaun Davis and Cam Toney back from playing more this year? Who do you think our linebackers will be next year?

Right now it’s probably just experience. Neither have played very much and with Toney more of a buck right now it’s tough for him to get a ton of reps with only one playing at a time. For Davis he will have a shot to show what he can do, I believe. As for next season I could see Tre Williams, Darrell Williams and JaViere Mitchell as Auburn’s starters.


howells: Who are our five most important uncommited recruits?

I have already mentioned Gary so he’s number one in my book. I would say Antwuan Jackson number two because of his ability to be a perfect 3-4 end. Getting a true pass rusher is an absolute must so I’ll give you a name outside the box, juco Dougladson Subtyl from Victor Valley Juco. He is originally from Florida and is a player to keep an eye on. I’ll round my group out with LB Rahshaun Smith and wide receiver Tre Nixon. That group of five would be strong.


Sanderman: Any chance AU is recruiting the QB at Benjamin Russell as an athlete? It would be a shame to let this kid fall through the cracks.

Tyre Gray is a really good player. I think he will will end up as a defensive back or wide receiver on the next level at a program like Troy or South Alabama when the dust settles. I am not sure he has got enough top end speed to interest SEC-level programs, but he can play.


aunatchamps: Do you think Trayvon Reed will be back in January? If he gets back in school will he get to play in January?

If he’s back in school in January he would be able to play. Right now that’s still in question. Bruce Pearl hasn't ruled out the possibility of the seven-footer playing again for the Tigers.


autigerman: How is Javon's ankle? Will he play against Ky.?

I think Jovon’s ankle is fine. I still don’t know that we’ll see him a ton against Kentucky, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he got a shot to see what he can do.


AUMPBA: Do you see Auburn making a bowl game?

I’ll let you know on Thursday. That is the key for me. Coming off the field following the San Jose State game I didn’t think Auburn was a bowl team. I need to see them following the bye week.  


wtbtiger: Why no Jason Smith at Wildcat? With our QB'S struggling do you think he will get a shot at playing some QB this year?

I have been expecting it since week one. I believe Smith is a player who needs to get at least seven or eight touches a game. That would be an opportunity to get him the ball.


Jason Caldwell

Jason Smith is a playmaker, something Auburn's offense desperately needs at the moment.

tigerflorabama: How many times a day do you and Mark read the boards and just want to bury your heads into your hands?  I guess seriously, how much information do you guys actually have that you are allowed/able to share with your subscribers?

There are certain things obviously that don’t get shared at the exact moment or until we can verify what we’re hearing. We try to do our best to share as much as possible with you guys while also maintaining a level of trust with the people we speak with on a daily basis.


WOLFIE2002: Who would you say that would be a legit draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft from this team?

I would say Ricardo Louis will be a guy the pros will be seriously considering. He will measure 6-1 or 6-2 and 215 pounds at the combine and run in the 4.3 to 4.4 range with a 38-inch vertical or better. I also think Jonathan Jones has a legit shot to get taken around the middle of the draft. The wildcard for me is Cassanova McKinzy. If he can show something at buck he's got a shot to make some money.


m5guy: I know we have a week to go before the Kentucky game but have you seen or heard anything that would lead you to believe that JJ will start over SW?

I haven’t seen anything that makes me believe Jeremy will start, but I get the feeling we’ll see him in the game at some point on Thursday.

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