Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Monday Morning QB Column: Super Regional Showdown, Football Notes

Auburn softball, football and football recruiting are featured in this edition of the Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Coach Clint Myers (above) watched his team finish 3-0 in the Auburn Softball Regional.

Softball Super Regional Set

Auburn took care of business over the weekend in regional play, outlasting a stubborn Jacksonville State team on Friday and putting away the Gamecocks in impressive fashion on Sunday. That sets up one of the top match-ups in the entire country this weekend at Jane B. Moore Field when Auburn takes on perennial powerhouse Arizona in the Super Regional.

Game times for the best of three series are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, 1 p.m on Sunday and if a third game is necessary it will follow at 4 p.m.

Despite Arizona’s record of 39-19, don’t think this group of Wildcats isn’t a tough matchup for the Tigers this weekend. One of the reasons why is because of the schedule they have faced this season. Going 5-12 against Super Regional teams this season, Arizona didn’t have a ton of success against the very top teams in the country, but winning twice in Knoxville over the weekend is two times as many home games as the Vols lost all season long.

Another reason Arizona is very dangerous is because of the coaching of Mike Candrea. A winner of eight national titles with the Wildcats and more than 1,500 games in his career, Candrea is one of the most decorated coaches in the history of the sport and he will have his team ready to compete.

Perhaps the biggest reason this weekend will be a good one is because of the history between Candrea and Auburn'shead coach, Clint Myers. Rivals when Myers was at Arizona State, the two know each other well and it makes this Super Regional one that should be worth watching.

 

Eli’s (Not) Coming

After talking with several high ranking Jacksonville State officials over the weekend and a player I have known for a long, long time who is still on the Gamecocks' roster, I remain firmly convinced that the rumors of quarterback Eli Jenkins wanting to transfer to Auburn are just that, rumors.

For one thing, Jenkins wasn’t scheduled to graduate until the last summer session in August leaving him no time to work with his team before the start of the season. Now that schedule looks like it will be backed up until the fall, meaning that a transfer would force a redshirt season before he was eligible on the Division I level.

The other is that Jenkins remains working out with his teammates and according to everyone around him he’s focused on the upcoming season for the Gamecocks and finishing what they started a year ago.

I have learned to never say never when it comes to these types of things, but the Jenkins talk continues to be just that, talk.

 

Negativity Abounds

In a normal year there is no question in my mind that four-star Malcolm Askew would have long ago committed to the Auburn Tigers, but this is not a normal year and it’s definitely not a normal time on the recruiting trail. Auburn’s SEC rivals and even schools outside the league that recruit against the Tigers are coming hard and heavy after Gus Malzahn’s program, trying to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of prospects.

Askew is one of those who has been getting plenty of negative recruiting against Auburn so far with teams telling him that the coaching staff could get fired three or four games into next season. It’s something that comes along with the territory for big-time college football programs in this day and age and even if it’s not a reality it doesn’t keep the tactic from being effective.

Those seeds of doubt in the minds of recruits are going to carry into next season and makes it even more important that the Tigers get off to a good start in 2016. That doesn’t mean a win against Clemson, but showing improvement and making it tough on the ACC Tigers would be a huge step forward for Auburn’s recruiting efforts. Getting a victory on what should be a wild night in Jordan-Hare Stadium could mean a flood of big-time prospects for Auburn. Either way the opener is as important as any we have seen in quite a while for the program.


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