Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column

Auburn football is featured as the Tigers prepare for the Texas A&M Aggies.

Austin Golson (above) is a junior offensive tackle for the Tigers.

WSlay: Does Gus stay in attack mode with play calling? Marlon looked really good inside last week. Vs a pass first team do you think he gets a lot of reps there?

Staying in attack mode is definitely something that we believe is needed for this offense to really shine. This team can run the ball, but just lining up on every first down and running it isn’t going to work. I think the best thing for this team is to throw more on early downs and make the defense respect that part of the game. As for Marlon Davidson playing inside, it’s something we’ve talked about as part of the third down package and I expect that to continue.


jimbo15: Do you think someone "got in Gus' ear" about the 3 headed QB monster or did he realize on his own that it wouldn't work? It seemed that he did a 180 from post-game Sat night after Clemson until the Tuesday press conference before Ark State?

I don’t know if it was so much someone getting in his ear as it was just having the chance to sit back and watch the game again. In the middle of the action I think coaches get so busy trying to get the next play called or make things work that it’s hard to see the overall plan in action. Once they sat down and watched it I have a feeling it didn’t take long to see the mistakes.

AUBnMD: Living out of state and region could you give us a ranking of the top five football teams in Alabama right now in view of the early season play of Jax State, Troy, and South Alabama?

I would put Alabama on top with Auburn second. After that I would probably go with Troy, South Alabama and then Jacksonville State. Next season UAB could make a pretty quick jump on this list because they’ve recruited pretty well already.


Tiger82: Who do you see as the top three personnel matchups between Auburn Tigers and TAMU this Saturday?

For me it starts with Austin Golson and Robert Leff vs. Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall. That look of the pass rushing defensive ends against Auburn’s tackles will be a key. Auburn needs to help the tackles with play calling that will keep the defensive ends off balance. The second is Auburn’s defensive line against an Aggie group that doesn’t have a lot of experience. Playing on the road for the first time with a redshirt center should favor the Tigers. The last one is Auburn’s defensive ends. It’s not so much about pass rush, but containment. I don’t think Trevor Knight is going to kill you in the pocket, but if you let him get to the edge that is where he’s dangerous.


AUPD89: Do you think Auburn can have as much success rushing the football against Texas AM this year as they did last year?  What are your keys to success, both offensively and defensively against Texas AM?

I think Auburn can have just as much success running the football this season against the Aggies, but I think it’s going to have to be in a different way. Last year the Tigers just lined up and ran the ball over and over again. I believe they need to throw early and then hit them with the run after that. The key to Auburn's offense is going to be stay aggressive and not overly predictable. On defense it’s pressuring Trevor Knight without giving him a lane to get out of the pocket and make plays with his legs.


givhandy: I know it's early, but do you think our oline, especially our tackles are capable of blocking us to a winning SEC record this year? That position is my biggest concern this year. Has the Kodi Burns Effect made a difference in our wide receiving corps?

I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s all up to the way the game is called in my opinion. They are easily good enough to let this team be pretty good as long as the opponent doesn’t know what’s coming every play. As for Kodi Burns there’s no question you can already see a difference in the wide receivers and I think they will only get better.


AUTD2: It seems like the run game has been much more effective in the first two games with JF III at QB. Am I correct?

There is no question that his speed threat has opened up some running lanes while he’s been in the first two games. Because of that I think he’ll have a role with the offense in some small capacity, but trying to run that offense 100 percent of the time right now would be very, very tough because teams would just stack the line and make Auburn throw the ball.


tigerpi: It seems that we have fallen off some with elite rb's. Who are we recruiting, do we have a shot at them and how good do you think they are.

Auburn already has commitments from four-star Octavius Matthews, four-star Devan Barrett and four-star Alaric Williams. With Kerryon Johnson, Kamryn Pettway, Malik Miller and Kameron Martin all freshmen and sophomores the focus on running back recruiting is on the class of 2018. The Tigers just offered Harold Joiner from Mountain Brook, a 6-3, 220-pounder with really good speed.


adam36830: What do you see as the biggest match up advantage & disadvantage for Auburn and A&M?

It should be the defensive line against the offensive line of Texas A&M. I think that could be a problem area for the Aggies on Saturday night. On the flip side it would have to be the defensive ends for the Aggies against Auburn’s tackles. If you look back after the game and don’t hear their names called much then the Tigers will win.


wtbtiger: How do you think our OL stacks up against A&M'S defensive line? How many passes do you think we will throw this weekend?

I’ve talked about this one several times so it’s easy to see that I think it’s a huge challenge for Auburn, but also one that could be helped with the coaches if they throw the ball on early downs. As for the number of passes, I think 22-28 is probably what I would look for unless Auburn is behind and needing to throw on almost every down in the fourth quarter.


AUtigeritaville: Beef BBQ or Pork BBQ?

I love brisket and it’s probably one of my favorite things, but it’s hard to find it done really well. Because of that I’ll stay with pork overall. The ribs push pork way over the top as compared to beef in my opinion.


auhops: Has Jarrett Stidham taken any other unofficial visits to other schools? Do we still go after another QB if Stidham does not work out?

I haven’t seen that he’s been anywhere since his Auburn visit. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in Auburn sometime again this fall. There is no question that Stidham is a huge target and you can see why with the current offense the Tigers are employing. He would be a great fit. If that doesn’t work out I think you’ll see them probably add another player that could play quarterback, but also another position if needed.


wareagledoc: I was concerned that JF3 didn't attempt a pass vs Arkansas State, despite playing almost the entire 4th quarter with a sizable lead. This leads me to believe that the coaches are not confident in his passing, and that he will be exclusively (rather than just primarily) just a running weapon. Other than mop-up duty, do you expect to see him in anything other than on the goalline or other "obvious" running situations?

There’s no question he is still a work in progress in terms of throwing the football, but he has gotten much better in that department since the spring. I think last weekend had more to do with not showing anything that late in the game. I believe if the coaches were real concerned with his ability to throw that he wouldn’t have thrown the ball on his first play against Clemson.


John Franklin runs the football in Auburn's 51-14 victory over Arkansas State

AUPMBA: Do you see us running the Tampa 2 against TAMU to make up for their four, five WR sets?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Auburn running some variation of the Tampa 2 at times because of the ability of guys like Darrell Williams and Montavious Atkinson to take deep drops and still close on the football, but against Texas A&M that could be deadly if you do it too much. The Tampa 2 is designed to basically “bend but don’t break,” meaning you give the offense room to throw short passes. With a guy like Christian Kirk I think allowing him freedom to catch the ball and make you miss is just asking for trouble. I would mix it up and try to keep them guessing.


m5guy: Whose defensive line and/or defense in general gets more pressure on the opposing QB Saturday - theirs or ours? I think this is essential to both teams in order to pull off a win.

The key is more pressure and not necessarily more sacks. Texas A&M may have more sacks because Sean will stand in the pocket a little longer, but I think Auburn gets more consistent pressure.


tigertail2: There doesn't seem to be a large number of prime DTs on our prospects offered list. Other than M J Webb, who doe AU have a solid opportunity to sign. We also need 2 or 3 more excellent LBs. Ignont, Taylor, Brit, remain possibilities? We have 3 4/5 star OL, do we need another?

Auburn is probably only going to sign one true DT in this class and the Tigers are trying to stay in the hunt with former Michigan commitment Aubrey Solomon from Lee County (Ga.) High. Tyrone Truesdell is another guy there and I really believe that four-star juco DE Isaiah Buggs is going to end up inside on the next level. Already with two linebackers committed in this class in Chandler Wooten and Tadarian Moultry, the Tigers would have nine on scholarship for essentially two spots already. I expect them to add two more to the class and all three of the guys you mentioned are definitely strong possibilities. Up front on the OL I could see them adding another offensive lineman if the right guy comes along, but with Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. stepping up at tackle it has really taken the pressure off that position for the future.

Aub4life3: is Gus saving some type of pull up and (safe) throw for JF3 for one of our bigger games?
That’s something I would not be surprised to see at all. He threw the ball on his first play against Clemson on a bubble type throw, but I think the one to see from him would be down the field.

Get Inside The Auburn Tigers Magazine and Newsletters


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories