Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Friday Mailbag Column: Auburn vs. Arkansas Game Week

Auburn takes on Arkansas this Saturday in a big game for both teams.

howells: If you could pick two of three for this weekends game, which two and why?

1)gain 200 yards passing 2)gain 200 yards rushing 3)hold arky to 150 rushing

This is an easy one for me. I’ll take 200 yards rushing and hold Arkansas to 150 or less. With the potential for bad weather that’s a gimme for me, but with just about any game I’ll take the team that runs the ball better and stops the run. That’s usually a pretty good recipe for success, but if you can make Arkansas one-dimensional then that’s a huge plus.


alcar7: I thought Jeff Holland showed some promise early on with his hustle but his snaps seems to have diminish instead of increase. Also, I don't recall seeing Kennion at all against KY. Are these simply b/c of Cass moving to the Buck?

Having Cassanova McKinzy at the buck has had a lot to do with the diminished playing time for Raashed Kennion and Holland, but Kennion has been less than full speed physically so that’s had something to do with it as well. I expect Cassanova to continue to get most of the reps until or if Carl Lawson returns.


carnellisanescalade: What is your favorite local place to eat when you travel to the other 13 SEC schools? I'd imagine this week would be a delicious trip!

There’s plenty of good places to choose for most of our trips. This week it’s Hermans or Does Eat Place. Both are outstanding. In Knoxville the place for me is Ye Olde Steakhouse. In Nashville it’s Loveless Cafe. Heading to LSU I have to stop at The Shed in Ocean Springs, Miss. One of my favorite places ever.


AUtigeritaville: Where do you see the newspaper industry in the state headed to in the next 10 years?

That’s a good question. It’s definitely ever changing and I expect it to continue to evolve to more video, much like every news outlet is doing now. With so many people on the go and using mobile devices it’s imperative to do shorter stories and more video. That’s why we’ve started doing more of those things ourselves while still offering the usual written variety.


AUpoker: Who do you have in the college football playoff right now?

My playoff right now would consist of Ohio State, Baylor, Utah and LSU. That is as of today. By the end of the year however I think it’s just Ohio State and Baylor with schools like Clemson, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and even Oklahoma still in the hunt.


givhandy: Will Sean White continue to make the most of his opportunity and increase his completion % with the receivers we have?

Is there a deadline on when Daniel Purifoy will be "in or out" of playing this year?

I have no reason to believe that Sean White won’t continue to improve. He’s gotten better with every game so far and with the weapons he’s got at receiver the Tigers should continue to make some plays in the passing game. I think it’s up to Gus Malzahn to continue to throw the ball early and give him a shot to stretch the field on those downs.

As for Purifoy he’s been practicing this entire time so there’s really no decision too late other than it carrying over to the second semester that wouldn’t allow him to make an impact this season.


aunatchamps: Is Kyle Davis postponement of his decision good news or bad news for Auburn? Any truth to the rumor that he postponed it because Jason was not going to be there due to Arkansas trip?

I’m really not sure what to make of Davis’ postponement. I know Auburn was very strongly in the mix for him and I suspect the Tigers will stay in the hunt for him. The biggest thing now for Auburn in this recruiting battle is to continue to open up the passing game with Ricardo Louis because that os a position he could see himself in perhaps as early as next season.


missd: It is really early, but do you think it is realistic that Butch will hire assistants this year or will that be in interim mode until the summer?

I believe Butch Thompson is going to try to get a staff together sometime over the next few months, but right now his focus is on finishing this early signing period in recruiting as well as getting to know his new baseball team. After that I believe he will work on getting a staff together, but if the timing doesn't work out I think he will wait as long as necessary to get the right guys. 


gtwstock: What are your top 2 things you think Auburn needs to do to create more explosive plays in the running game?

There’s no question the first thing Auburn needs in order to have more explosive plays running the football is to throw it more on first down. Every first down pass the Tigers throw backs the safeties up a little more, which in turn allows the running backs a better chance to get to the second level when they are called upon. The second thing is to get better blocking from the wide receivers and H-backs. Those are the guys that make a difference between a 10-yard gain and a 25-yard gain. Got to have them doing more.


m5guy: What's more important to get a "W" on Saturday - us stopping or at least controlling the Arky run game or us being able to run on them?

I think it’s more important for Auburn to be able to run the football because of the tempo it creates. Rarely under Gus Malzahn have the Tigers played really well on offense when it didn’t center around running the football. It can happen that way, but getting tempo off the running game is the best medicine for Auburn’s offense.


wtbtiger: Do you expect to see JJ in the game, if SW struggles in the first half?

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Jeremy Johnson get a shot if Sean White really struggles, but I think it would take a really rough start for that to happen after the way he’s played the last three weeks. Sooner or later you’ve got to stick with your guy and so far White hasn’t done anything to warrant Johnson being given a look.


tryn2: What can Boom do with our DL to slow down the Hog rushing attack this sat...???

Also, if it rains, which team do you think it favors, and why...???

I think it’s up to the front four for Auburn to play very well this weekend. No amount of scheming by Will Muschamp will work unless the guys respond to the challenge and get off blocks. If you see Montravius Adams and Dontavius Russell making plays early then that’s a great sign for the Tigers. As for the wet weather, I don’t think the rain will have a huge impact on either team although the Arkansas O-Line has a significant size advantage over Auburn’s defensive line.


gmason73: So, we're just beyond the 1/2 point of the season.  Give me your biggest surprise, good and bad (besides Jeremy Johnson), for this Auburn team.  

I think the biggest surprise in a good way for me has been Peyton Barber. I always thought he had the ability to get the job done, but to his credit he took the ball and ran with it (pun intended) when he got his opportunity. I really like watching him run and think he could have a big second half if the passing game continues to improve. The biggest surprise on the bad side has been the defensive line. I underestimated how important Carl Lawson was for this group. No doubt it was a huge blow to lose the force off the edge because now teams can put three guys on Auburn’s two interior tackles on just about every play.


wcvet: What is the most memorable trip to Arkansas you can remember to cover a football game?   Do you sense that Muschamp has grown a lot as  a coordinator and is even better at it after his 7 years away?

It was probably the 2005 game when Auburn blitzed the Hogs in the second half for 28 points. The Tigers came from behind to slam the door that day. As for Muschamp I think he’s a better teacher now than he’s ever been and that will pay off down the road.


aubtime: Is it too much time or to hard to come out with how many plays each players play and break them down to defense, offense and special teams?

I would need to have a 22 videos for every game to get those stats on my own and it would take a whole lot more time than I have at the moment.


autigerman: Can SW pass for 300 yds and can we rush for 140 yds this Saturday? Can we get the ball in #8 and #80 hands a lot more in the passing game and run #21 till his tounge hangs out can we huh? Can we?

I think it’s possible that Auburn could throw for a lot of yards, but it may depend on the weather. As long as it’s not pouring I expect the Tigers to pick up where they left off against Kentucky because the Razorbacks are pretty good against the run.


tinye: Will a tight end catch a pass this year?

If you’re not counting Chandler Cox or Kamryn Pettway as a tight end/H-Back then I’ll go with no. I just don’t think that’s going to be a position they use in the passing game this season with Jalen Harris playing very little and Robert Leff used as a blocker.


JV2007: Will we ever see Jason Smith in the wildcat or QB?

That’s a good question. I keep expecting him to get some touches back there, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m beginning to wonder if they just run some regular zone read offense with him with Kerryon remaining the wildcat guy. We shall see.

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