Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column

Taking your questions for another edition of the Friday Mailbag.

Kellen Mond (above) is a talented quarterback prospect the Tigers are recruiting.

AUpoker: Are you surprised at all the blowouts in the NBA Conference Finals games?

I’m not really surprised when you think about how well top level NBA teams play at home. It’s just tough to win in those types of environments and it’s the closest thing NBA teams get to all year to a crazy college environment like Rupp Arena or Cameron Indoor stadium. You combine that with really talented players and that’s what can happen in those environments.


Aunatchamps: Who would be your best guess as to pulling the trigger and committing to the Tigers at Big Cat weekend? What is your best guess at the over/under line as to the number of commits within the week of Big Cat Weekend?

Even though he says he’s going to wait until into the season, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Malcolm Askew say yes to the Tigers sometime around Big Cat Weekend. There’s no question Auburn is his favorite by a big margin and getting back on campus could be the end of things for him. As for number of commitments I just don’t think it will be a lot. Guys want to see what this team is going to do so others are going to wait until at least late in the summer with many going into the fall like Askew has talked about.


Wtbtiger: Arizona seems to have good pitching. How many runs will we have to score per game to beat them?  I know they have one girl that hits a lot of homers but what about the rest of their line up?

Arizona can really pitch it, no question about that. I think if Auburn gets to five the Tigers will have a great chance to win the game, but with the way Auburn has been pitching lately it may not take that many. As for the Wildcats on offense, Mo Mercado leads the way with a .387 average and has eight home runs and 42 RBI. Mandie Perez has 11 home runs, a .340 average, and 12 stolen bases. Katiyana Mauga provides the power with 21 home runs and 62 RBI.

In conference play the Wildcats batted just .262 with 25 home runs and 41 extra-base hits in 24 games. Compare that to Auburn. The Tigers had 30 home runs in 23 games with a batting average of .289.


Tigerau: Best guess on do you think we will get the Baylor QB commit?

I like Auburn’s chances with Kellen Mond. I think the biggest key for him coming to Auburn would be getting him back on campus for an extended visit with his father. He’s a kid who really likes Auburn, but it’s going to be about the bond with the coaches and getting a feel for the campus. He had that with Baylor growing up in Texas so another visit to Auburn would be huge.


Alcar7: What's the funniest Mark Murphy story you got?

We’ve spent so much time together in the last 17 years that honestly the stories all mesh into one. I think something that you guys would want to know is how much work it takes to do the magazine and newsletters during the season, much of which Mark does almost exclusively while I try to hold down the fort online. Grinding doesn’t begin to tell the story of what it takes to put together the newsletter following a late night Saturday game on the road. It usually involves me driving and Mark working away while using a flashlight to go back and forth between stat pages, all the while we’re talking about the game we just saw and going over our thoughts. Those late nights/early mornings and stopping at the only open convenience store on Highway 82 between Tuscaloosa and Prattville are definitely not the glamorous parts of the job, but it’s just necessary to do the job the way we believe it should be done.


Saniflush: How often do you see a player that has a hard time catching passes make a big improvement?

I think it happens a pretty good bit. The first guy I really remember making that move was Alexander Wright. He never became what I would call a natural pass catcher, but he definitely got much better over his career and it showed in his play. Another guy that did that was Devin Aromashodu. He struggled early on with being so stiff catching the ball, but wound up being pretty solid with his hands.


ATLtiger07: What are your expectations for Cowart this year?

I like his chances to show improvement over where he was last season as a freshman. I thought he showed more in the bowl game and in spring practice than he did during the 2015 regular season, but my main question is how much explosion he has got off the edge. I think he needs to be at 255 or so to be the pass rusher everybody expected of him. Playing at 280+, I think he may end up moving inside to defensive tackle. I could really see him making a similar move to that of Robert Nkemdiche and eventually being a defensive tackle I really think that may be his best spot down the road.

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