Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag: Answering Your Questions About The Tigers

Talking all things Auburn in the latest edition of the Mailbag.

AUPMBA: Do you see Byron Cowart playing more this year after a year under him and more time in the weight room?  Many times the highly recruited (number 1) don't live up to expectations so interested in your thoughts.   

Even with more competition I think Cowart is a guy that will take a step forward this season. He’s a player who has the talent to get it done and his work ethic has improved in a big way. Recently I watched him doing a workout in the sand pit by himself on a Saturday afternoon. He didn’t have to be there, but he put that extra work in to be successful.

Hoochtiger: Jason, how quick of a timeline do you think the coaches have for naming a starting quarterback once preseason practice starts? Who do you feel is the most likely choice?

I think they would like to have it by the end of the first week if someone steps up and takes it over. My guess right now would be Sean White to start the year, but if John Franklin comes out firing early in camp he could definitely win it.

Mattree: Jason you see the quarterbacks more than the rest of us.  With how they ended the season, spring, and summer workouts who would you start against Clemson?

As I mentioned with Hooch, I think Sean White is probably the safest pick at this moment, but that all depends on Franklin. He looks better throwing the ball this summer and if he has a strong start to the preseason I would get him involved pretty early.

Crs1313: Jason, do you see Gus using packages where White and Franklin are on the field at the same time due to Franklin's speed, ie, jet sweep while allowing for some trickeration?

Anything is possible and I could see a few special plays here or there involving Franklin. He’s definitely fast enough to give you some options if he’s not playing quarterback at that moment.

Au3020: The season isn't far off.  Training camp is about a week away.  We know the team, for the most, part has been getting good off season work in.  How is Aubie looking?  Any good  news on his preparations for the upcoming season?  Is he in good shape or do we need to have him run stadium steps to get through the season?

I was with Aubie for several hours last night and he looks to be in midseason form. I expect Aubie to have another very strong season following a big summer that included winning Camp Champion at the UCA Camp. 

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Aubie knows where to get his Auburn Tigers information.

Autigerman: I could only guess at who would start where on both sides of the ball.Who do you think would be the four down linemen on defense and the starting OL right now?Who goes in to rest Jovon?

My guess for the four down lineman on defense would be Carl Lawson and Marlon Davidson at end with Montravius Adams and Dontavius Russell at tackle. On the offensive line I expect Xavier Dampeer at center, Alex Kozan and Braden Smith at guard, and Austin Golson and Robert Leff at tackle. I expect Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway to both get carries at running back along with Jovon.

AUBnMD: With all these questions about qbs, one more. What is the present condition of Tyler Queen and his prognosis for this season?

Tyler looked good when I saw him last week. I think they’re going to take things slowly with him this fall, but I believe he’ll be ready to go physically if he’s needed. 

Tiger82: Any changes to the stadium, parking, or concession offering we should be aware of as we prep for that first game? Anyone who normally comes in via Moore's Mill should know there is construction at the I-85 bridge and no left turns are permitted.

The biggest things to me are that the handicap parking has moved from the lot in front of Momma Goldberg’s to the VCOM lot on Donahue. There should be much more room to accommodate this year. Another one is that you have to have clear bags to take things into the stadium. It’s a big change because it’s a much smaller bag to take into the stadium than ever before.

Actman: I thought I had read, that Coach Pearl would like to have the 2017 class signed in the Early Signing Period for basketball. Although "way early" what are your thoughts on who might fill out this class.

There are still some very good options for the Tigers in the 2017 class, but Alex Reese is a guy who I think would be a great fit for what the Tigers want to do. If he’s a stretch four alongside Austin Wiley that would be a dominant 1-2 punch on the interior. 

Rocketcity: Jason, have you been able to get a feel for the Lb transfer Neal? Do you think he will start ? 

I think T.J. Neal is going to get all he wants from Darrell Williams to be the starter opposite Tre Williams at linebacker. Neal is a physical player and I believe he’s had a good summer since arriving on campus in late May. 

Aupoker: What's your feel on Walker, Petty, Obiagu, Reese, or Hammonds??? Are any of those guys likely AU bound???

I mentioned Reese earlier. I believe Auburn is in the mix for him and he likes the Tigers. Auburn is working on M.J. Walker, but that’s going to be a tough battle. The same for John Petty. Going to be tough to add another true center in a guy like Ike Obiagu. As for Rayshaun Hammonds, I believe the Tigers are still making a push for him.

auhops: Do you think we will make a run at former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham? Thanks

My guess is Stidham is probably going to take his time before deciding something this season. If he goes to a junior college there is no need to pull the trigger anytime soon. For Auburn it could come down to what they see out of the quarterbacks this fall.

wtbtiger: How do you compare this team emotionally and physically going into fall practice with teams over the last 5 years? Who has shown leadership qualities that the team seems  to rally behind?

It’s really hard to tell until they get on the field in the preseason, but I like what I have seen this summer from the guys I have been around. The leadership has been good with guys like Carl Lawson and Johnathan Ford really shouldering things on defense. Marcus Davis is one of the guys on offense that has taken on that role as well.

aunatchamps: Who will be the Punter this year? What happened to the strategy of punting to the corner and have it go out of bounds inside the 10 yard line as opposed to kicking it high and having our outside gunners catch it before it goes into the end zone?

I think the punter is one of the most interesting battles in the preseason with Kevin Phillips battling to hold off redshirt freshman Ian Shannon. Shannon has a stronger leg, but this one will come down to consistency. As for punting for the sidelines, I think teams figured out that too many times those punts are shanked and teams wind up on the 25 or 30-yard line. Nowadays the goal is to sky kick and try to get the returner to catch it at the 10 or closer to the goal line. That is playing the percentages.

tunicatiger: I was watching the SEC network Sunday and noticed one of the Kentucky players got a little close to crashing into you on the baseline.  You also did a great job of diagnosing him with poked eye for trainers. What is the closest you have ever come to having an nfl films follies type moment where you get crashed into by an athlete while trying to cover a sport from the sidelines or court side?

I remember the play well and I actually signaled to Coach Cal about his player being poked in the eye. You're right, it was just about in my lap. I have had guys come close in games on the football field, but the moment for me was being smoked by a Mike Bianucci line drive in foul territory in baseball. I turned to protect myself and my camera and caught it on the side of my thigh. It turned all sorts of colors before it healed.

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