Photo by Jason Caldwell

Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag--It's Gametime

It's finally time to play football and we answer your questions leading up to Auburn-Clemson on Saturday night.

Javaris Davis (above) is expected to make his first college start vs. Clemson.

gtwstock: Other than AU/Clemson, which games are you going to watch or record and watch from Saturday's smorgasboard?

There are really two games I’m looking forward to watching on Saturday. The first is Houston-Oklahoma. I really want to see if Houston can match what it did last season and if the Cougars can slow Oklahoma’s offense enough to win the game. The second is UCLA at Texas A&M. Those are two teams that have a lot of talent, but continuously fall flat. I have no idea what to expect in that one.

 

tvilletiger: Jason, what is your confidence level in Saturday night's game?

I honestly don’t know in terms of Auburn winning, but I have a pretty high confidence level that this Auburn team is going to play better than we saw for most of last season. I am not sure this team ready to score enough points yet to beat this Clemson offense, but if the defense can get them a turnover or two then all bets are off.

 

m5guy: Can we line up and beat Clemson by being more physical and outplaying them or will we need turnovers from them and/or a big play or two by us on offense to beat them?

I think it’s going to take a turnover or two as I just mentioned, but I think Auburn should and needs to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. If you do that then you give yourself a chance to win.

 

Jello1: I'm going to cheat and ask several quick questions. How many passes will be thrown? Who other than Marcus Davis catches the most passes? Do John Franklin and Jeremy Johnson play?

I think this Auburn team needs to throw the ball to win the game on Saturday. Last season Sean White threw 27 passes against Kentucky and 27 in regulation against Arkansas. Those were the two best performances of the year offensively in my mind so I think 27 is a good number. Other than Marcus Davis I could see Kerryon Johnson catching three or four. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Will Hastings catch several as well. I think Franklin gets a few plays here or there and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Johnson in a short yardage or goal line situation. I don’t think either get a full series unless things aren’t going well.

 

tigertail2: Is there a special set of plays that use JFIII? Same for JJ.

Will Herb substitute along the off line, especially using James and Horton?

I think that’s probably the most likely scenario for Franklin and Johnson is to have a play here or there in certain situations. As for substitutions on the offensive line, I can’t see that happening unless there is an injury or someone isn’t play well. It’s just not something that is done. I expect Mike Horton to be the next lineman up if needed.

 

AUTIGER64INNC: If you had to choose the most important stat of the game for an AU victory what would it be:

1. Third down conversion % (both offensive and defensive)

2. Passing yards

3. Rushing yards

4. Defense total yards allowed

5. Turnovers +/-

I saw a stat that Clemson is 46-2 under Brent Venables when holding opponents to under 50 percent converting third downs. When giving up at least 50 percent under Venables, Clemson is 0-6. That looks like the stat for me in this game, meaning Auburn needs to have success on first down and put itself ahead of the chains a good bit. After that I’ll take turnovers. That’s always a huge part of the game.

 

roberra: Does JF3 get a chance to lead a series or two or will it be in a wildcat and/or red zone role only? FYI, I think SW can lead us fine and get a W, just curious as to what you foresee for JF3.

I don’t think Franklin is going to be a guy who leads a series here or there, at least right now. I think he’ll be used mostly in spot situations.

 

ATLtiger07: I think the talk of Gus being on the hot seat is ridiculous, but to play along-- on a scale of 1-10 how hot do you think it is for Gus going into this season?

It’s tough to put it as a number. I’ll just say I think it would take this team completely falling apart for his job to be in serious jeopardy at this time. With as much money and pressure as coaches are under now to win and win big, I’ll never say never, but I think it would take a really, really bad year.

 

AUtigeritaville: If you are the Clemson coaches, what areas do exploit against Auburn? And what adjustments do you expect Auburn to make against you?

If I’m Clemson I make Auburn’s young wide receivers make plays while I bring plenty of pressure against a revamped offensive line. On offense I think you’ll see Clemson challenge Auburn’s defensive backs and in particular Javaris Davis. He’ i going to be a tired guy Saturday night. I think Auburn will try to give a lot of different looks on defense and bring the pressure to Deshaun Watson. The more time he has the tougher it gets to stop him.

 

Tiger82: I'm trying to remember the freshmen who started on Auburn's defensive line. Tracy Rocker did, of course, and maybe David Rocker. Who else can you think of who has started as a freshman?

Probably the guy who has done the most as a true freshman that I can find was Jimmy Brumbaugh. He didn’t start the opener, but started eight times in 1995 for the Tigers. Tracy Rocker redshirted and David was a freshman in 1987, a team loaded with talented defensive linemen including his brother.

Most recently Corey Lemonier played in all 14 games and had a start in 2010. Gabe Wright played in 12 games that season as well with three starts.

 

AugTiger: What one player on offense and one on defense that have not played or not played much are you most looking forward to seeing play against Clemson?

The guy I’m looking forward to seeing the most on offense is Elijah Stove. I just think he’s physically what you’re looking for at the position and so far he’s shown to have the work ethic to match. He has the speed and athleticism to stretch the field on Saturday night. On defense I would probably go with Montavious Atkinson. I really liked him in high school and he’s guy who you can just turn loose and let him make plays.

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