Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column: Answering Questions on Auburn Sports

Jason Caldwell of Inside the Auburn Tigers answers your questions about the Auburn sports. This edition features football and basketball.

Carl Lawson (above) is a junior defensive end for the Tigers.

WarEagle1986: Jason, would you agree that a lot of the panic or concern over the quarterbacks is overblown not only in general, but also considering the fact that the Tigers have a lot of talented, motivated players in key skill positions on offense? With the talent we potentially have on the offensive side of the ball we may not need a game changer at quarterback?

I think anything to do with the quarterback is always going to be important, but I think this year it has been a bigger story because of what happened last season. Lots of schools in the SEC are having QB battles, but the one at Auburn is making more news because of the struggles in 2015. If you can find a guy who can push the right buttons I think it makes it less important to have a true game changer.


Jan44: Jason, how do you think our defense will react this season? I am very hopeful that they will step up and improve during the season. Thanks, Jason.

I think the defense looks good in the preseason and much of the reason for that is because of the talent and depth on the line of scrimmage. I believe the linebackers will be improved, which is one of the reasons why I like the group to be better.


M5guy: Give us your projected starting lineup for both offense & defense if the game were this Saturday.

I’ll give it a shot. QB-Sean White, RB-Kerryon Johnson, FB-Chandler Cox, TE-Landon Rice, WR-Marcus Davis, WR-Tony Stevens, OT-Austin Golson, OT-Robert Leff, OG-Alex Kozan, OG-Braden Smith, C-Xavier Dampeer

DE-Carl Lawson, DE-Marlon Davidson, DT-Montravius Adams, DT-Dontavius Russell, LB-Tre Williams, LB-Darrell Williams, Nickel-Rudy Ford, CB-Carlton Davis, CB-Javaris Davis, S-Stephen Roberts, S-Nick Ruffin


Jimbo15: Scale of 1-10. How confident are you that the offense will be "noticeably improved" over last year. Overall improvement. Scoring, 3rd down conversions, etc.

I’m not sure how to define noticeably, but I do think it will be better. Do I see this offense being 2010 or 2013? No, but I do think it will be better than last season. I think the biggest areas that need to improve are third down conversions and red zone plays, something they’ve worked on a lot this preseason.


Roberra: More likely -- beating LSU @ home or bama on the road and why? Thank you, sir

LSU at home because the Tigers are at home. The chances of LSU scoring a ton of points probably isn’t great and that gives you a better chance than winning on the road in my opinion.


Jello1: Predict how Auburn's defense will be against the run this year, especially LSU, bama, Arkansas, and UGA? We must make teams throw to beat us if we are going to have a good year on defense.

That’s a big part of what should be an improved aea of the defense. Not only does having more depth along the defense line help, but I think having guys like DeShaun Davis and T.J. Neal at linebacker is really important. Both of those guys are made for stopping the run.


AUPMBA: Do you see the QB named starter being the guy the entire year (outside of injury of course)?  

I think it’s a possibility because it all depends on how well he plays. If you name Sean White and you beat Clemson with him and get off to a good start then it will be hard to make a move.


AUtigeritaville: What song best represents this preseason?


Greaser417: Do you think we have a defensive lineman that has the ability to take over a game the way Nick Fairley did or even Tracy Rocker back in the eighties?

I’m not sure I see anybody having the direct impact that either one of those guys had, but no question that having Carl Lawson on the field makes everything different. A guy who could put up much bigger numbers this year is someone like Devaroe Lawrence. Even splitting time, he’s got the skill set to be a terror when he comes in fresh against a winded offensive lineman.


Henrytw2: Can you try to divine from the coaches/players this week who is getting the most snaps at qb this week and who is second. Also, did Marshall Taylor ever show up at practice this week?

We don’t have to ask that one. Sean White has been getting the most reps in practice with John Franklin getting some work as well. All three are still taking snaps and it’s likely going to be with different packages they can run.


Autigerman: Will Tre Mathews be healed enough to start and who else will be able that was hurt in the last two years?

I think Tray Matthews is much more prepared to play well this season after injuring both shoulders last season. One was already bothering him to start the year and he hurt the other against Louisville. After having surgery on both he’s full speed and ready to go.


Wtbtiger: CM has said he wants to play at a faster pace this year. Do you think this offense Can?

I think this offense can play much faster and it’s all about getting first downs. That means having success on first down plays and allowing the offense to continue to stay ahead of the chains. The more third and long situations you have the slower you play.


Wtbtiger: JJ was a super prospect at QB. IN your opinion why has he not developed into a very good QB at AU?

I just think it’s part of the quarterback position. Sometimes guys can have all the tools and it just doesn’t come together. It happens all the time in the NFL with first round QB selections and those are guys that have already had plenty of success.


Dewsweeper: Is the basketball team in the same shape as the football team, i.e., unsettled at the QB/PG?  And, can the BB team make it into the upper half of the SEC this coming season and why/how?

I think the basketball team is in good shape at the point position with incoming Houston transfer Ronnie Johnson and freshman Jared Harper both capable of doing a good job. I absolutely think this team can make it to the upper half of the league if they can build a little confidence with that tough non-conference schedule.


JV2007: Do you think our OL is as good as last years?

I think that’s yet to be determined. I do think they’ve got a chance to be better because of the strength of the interior linemen. Even losing Shon Coleman and Avery Young, I thought both struggled at times last season and Young in particular. Both Austin Golson and Robert Leff could play just as well and maybe better.


Gtwstock: 1:45 left in the 4th quarter, Clemson is down to their last timeout. Auburn leads 28-27 and has the ball with a 3rd and two at their own 40. Who's in your backfield? Who is the next guy up at each position?

I have Sean White at quarterback, Chandler Cox at fullback and Kerryon Johnson at tailback. Having watched Kerryon for five years, he’s a great short yardage back even though he’s not a huge guy. He reminds me a lot of Cadillac.


Cletisthecat: Are you and your wife hoping for a girl? a boy? or just a bundle of joy?

Doesn’t matter to me. As long as the baby is healthy we’ll be perfect.


WSlay: We lose an OT for a significant period....who's the OL?

I think Darius James is probably the guy right now, but Mike Horton could also get into the mix if they wanted to move Braden Smith back outside to tackle and use Horton at guard.


Lacee: After we get a first down do you think we hurry and run up the middle ?

That’s a good question. At times it’s certainly going to be done, but if Sean White is the quarterback I think they need to mix in more first down throws.



Which WR do you think has made the most improvement since last season? If you have to call it right now, which FR WR do you think will make the biggest impact this season? and overall...and if you had to pick one (or two)...  which player on the team has made the most improvement since last year?

I think Tony Stevens is the guy who has probably made the biggest jump since last season. As for the freshman wide receiver who will make the biggest impact I’m going with Elijah Stove. He’s been really good this preseason. Overall, the player who has probably made the biggest jump is Jeff Holland with Byron Cowart right there with him.


Tiger82: Which players appear to be the leaders on defense?

Carl Lawson is one of the leaders on defense with both Tre Williams and DeShaun Davis stepping up in that area as well. In the secondary Rudy Ford has shown to be a leader as well.


Dobie2: What is the latest on Marshall Taylor reporting to AU and playing this season?

It’s still to be determined. They are hoping to get him back with the team, but he’s only got a few more class days he can miss before it’s too late. It’s just wait and see.

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