Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Tigers Mailbag: Arkansas State Week For Auburn Football

Jason Caldwell of Inside the Auburn Tigers and answers your questions about the football Tigers this week as they get ready to face Arkansas State.

Robert Leff (70, above) made his third college start, and first at right tackle, in game one.

tinye: Besides college football, just about every other sport has an exhibition season. Do you think we will see a one game exhibition for college football one day?

I just don’t think there will ever be a way for that to happen. There are already too many games on the schedule many coaches and administrators believe. NFL teams can go out and sign another player if a guy gets hurt, colleges can’t do that.

tommytiger: Jason are the stadium north end zone plans on hold?

The plans were never definitely on, they were just being talked about and discussed. I think that is still the case at the moment.

WSlay: You're the OC. Would you rather have Chris Todd or Sean White?

I don’t want to seem like I’m dodging the question, but I just haven’t seen enough of White to give him a fair shake. I think he’s more athletic than Todd and can give you a little bit more in the running game at times, but I haven’t seen him really turned loose yet except for a couple of instances last season. I think White has more upside because he’s quicker and doesn’t have the arm issues that Todd had.

Carnellisanescalade: How do you and Mark separate being a journalist and being a fan. Who do you vent to about auburn sports, and how hard is it to check yourself when writing or posting?

It’s just about being a professional. I was way more emotionally invested as a teenager than I am now 17 years into this job because you have to be able to handle things objectively to do the job properly. As for venting, we do that to each other a good bit so that’s not an issue. Thankfully, we both have great wives to go home to that allow us to do something other than Auburn sports for a few hours.

gtwstock: Do you think we'll see Marshall Taylor on the field this weekend....with the assumption we have a big lead?  Also, are the two "team" pass attempts in the official statistics the spiking of the ball on the last drive?

I think there’s a chance Marshall Taylor could get some playing time this weekend. It shouldn’t be as tough to get him up to speed at cornerback as it would at some of the other positions. Yes, the two spikes to kill the clock are counted as team pass attempts.

wtbtiger: If you were JJ would you talk to CM and CP about moving over to basketball? JJ was quite the basketball player in high school.

It all depends on what he wants to do the rest of the year in terms of football. If he continues to play football then it wouldn’t do him much good to worry about basketball, but I’m not so sure he could make much of an impact anyway with his roster. Three years without playing competitive basketball is a long time.

wtbtiger: What would you do if you were the OL coach after a poor performance like the one we saw last week?

I think they got better in the second half on Saturday and I would want to see how they respond early Saturday vs. Arkansas State. I believe the the coaches have to put the offense in a better position to succeed, and that impacts not only the quarterback, but also the offensive line. It is tough to play the position when nine guys are running to the football to stop a running play and have about a 90 percent chance of being right.

AUtigeritaville: Are there any support staff or GA's that are getting noticed for their contributions this fall and have great potential as coaches in the near future?

I think there are several guys who will be on-the-field coaches down the road. Brandon Wheeling, the defensive GA who works with Rodney Garner on the defensive line, is a guy likely to move up in the not too distant future. The same is true for Jonathan Wallace and Austin Tucker on offense. I really think someone could get a steal as an offensive coach with Doug Goodwin. He would be a great asset to some college team on the field.

DRJ75: Jason, I was really looking forward to seeing T.J. Neal play some at LB last week. I realize the starters were playing so well that the coaches didn't want to take them out but do you think he will get to play some not only this week but down the road if for no other reason just give the others a break at times...? Also, I really like Kyle Davis' size against smaller DB' you see his role expanding...?

I think Neal’s role will increase as they get into the season and probably this week, but I’m not sure what else they could have asked for at linebacker last week. There was no reason to substitute for the guys who played in the opener. As for Kyle Davis, I expect him, Nate Craig and Elijah Stove to all get more and more playing time each week.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Nate Craig is a true freshman wide receiver for the Tigers.

m5guy: A version of Mark's question to us for you - what are you looking for from the team on Saturday to improve on? How is the psyche of the team after such a heartbreaking loss?

It’s all offense in my mind. The thing I’m most looking for is tempo, but I think the Tigers need to throw the ball on first down a good bit early in the game just to set the tone, including taking a couple of deep shots. After that it makes sense to see the Tigers establish the running game and get John Franklin involved in the zone read plays by running it himself some. As for the team’s mindset it seems fine to me. I think the players and coaches feel like they should have won the game.

aliasau: Do our tight ends have stone hands or do the coaches just plan to ignore that position again this year? Unbelievable that we didn't even try after the way the updykes tight end had over 200 yards against them last year.

With Landon Rice dealing with a personal issue that leaves Jalen Harris as the only true tight end on the roster. He played some Saturday night against Clemson and I think we’ll see his playing time increase, but he’s not a guy like O.J. Howard who can stretch the defense at the position.

AUPMBA: Do you think the change of OL coach has lived up to the hype?

It has been just one game so we will have to see how the group develops into the season. They didn’t have a very good start last Saturday, but the coaching staff didn’t do them any favors with the quarterback rotation and predictable play calls. The play callers have got to help the group out by throwing it some on first down to make the defense more honest.

ware12: Why do Gus and Lashlee discourage outside QB coaching and do you think their track record of developing QB's is good?    I won't name them all but I don't remember a single QB they've coached who has improved significantly or met their potential.  (Chris Todd Maybe) The Tulsa QB's were successful from the newness of the offense and went no where after college.  Cam improved tremendously After leaving AU.   Don't forget Burns, Frazier, Johnson and others.  The lack of development is always blamed on the player.  AU seems to be where  4 and 5 star QB's go to become receivers.

Also, what did you see from White that you thought was better than Johnson?   Johnson's interception was less bad than White's at the goal line in my opinion and  I thought Jeremy threw the crisper passes. I know I'm in the super minority but not sure why.

I’m not sure why they discourage outside guys working with the QB’s in terms of fundamentals, but that’s what they’ve always done. As far as developing QB’s, I would say it’s about the same as about 75 percent of schools/coaches around the country. Just look around this league. Alabama is getting ready to turn everything over to a true freshman and has signed a five-star, two four-stars and a three-star in the last three classes prior to 2016. They have also played a guy they moved to running back and a transfer the last two seasons.

Florida is starting a walk-on, Ole Miss is playing their second-straight junior college quarterback, Georgia is going to play a true freshman after playing a transfer a season ago. Texas A&M is playing a transfer, too. The list goes on and on. Oregon is playing a second-straight transfer from a lower division. It’s just hard to find quarterbacks who develop and get better and better. Dak Prescott and Brandon Allen are the notable exceptions in the SEC recently. It is tough to find many more.

As for last week I thought Jeremy had a couple of nice throws, but his underthrow of Marcus Davis was big because it was probably late as well. As for White's interception, it was fourth and eight so you just have to try to make something happen. He had to force the ball in to see if someone could make a play.

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