Photography: Johnny Lawrence

Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag--Bye Week Edition

Answering your questions about Auburn football, softball and more during a bye week for the Tigers.

AUtigeritaville: Who on our offense is the closest to being NFL ready and why?

I think it would have to be either Alex Kozan or Braden Smith with Tony Stevens making a stronger push to get into the mix. I think Kozan is probably the most ready right now with Smith having the most upside of the trio. He’s still not as consistent as he needs to be, but his physical skills are obviously there.


Tiger82: Talk about the running back situation. Can you or Mark remember a year in which we have lost so many? There was the Tre Smith game in Tuscaloosa, but if you consider our top 3 from last year were gone before the season started, our top two have done well, but are banged up, and our current #3 has now been lost for most of the season. It sounds pretty bleak. Yet we are second in the SEC in rushing, KJ and KP have done a great job and Truitt is showing a good deal of promise. Is Martin ready for more playing time? Who's next up after him, Cox?

It’s been pretty impressive to see what Auburn has done at the running back position. I had no doubts about Kerryon Johnson, but things could be a little dicey with him now because you never know about ankles. I think Stanton Truitt is probably the third guy up with Kameron Martin in there as well. I think Chandler Cox would be the next running back behind Kamryn Pettway in a short yardage situation.


TigerTenn: In addition to last year's starters, which Softball players have looked good in fall camp? Any freshmen challenging for starting roles?

Washington transfer Tannon Snow really swings the bat well and I think she’ll have a great shot to earn plenty of playing time at first base. Freshman outfielder Carmyn Greenwood from Oak Mountain has been very good as well offensively. Another player that is swinging it well is sophomore Kendall Veach. She’s someone they may have to find a way to get into the lineup.


aubtime: Is it possible to give a depth chart for softball?  Mainly for the position that are open. Who are the possibilities.

Check the softball story on Friday. I’ll have a rundown of some of the open positions and who is in the mix. Right now I would say first base, second base and at least one outfield spot are wide open at the moment.


KJTiger: 1.  I read where there are going to be improvement to the baseball field this year with lighting and new seats.  Are these going to be finished by baseball season this year or next? 2.  Since Gus has given up the OC duties what changes have you noticed in him since the change is responsibilities?  Also How involved is he in game planning on offense and defense?

The baseball upgrades are scheduled to be finishes before the 2017 season starts. They are expected to work on them as soon as fall practices end in November. As for Gus Malzahn, I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed about him is that he’s more relaxed. He’s still involved in the game planning and how things are done, but he’s letting his coaches do their jobs and that’s a huge step for him.


gtwstock: Who handles wildcat duties if Kerryon is out?

That’s a good question. Chandler Cox has worked in that role before and I think he could be the guy in short yardage situations. Jason Smith has been working some with the quarterbacks and I believe he would be a great guy to run some wildcat down the road. That would be the guy I would go with.


AUPD89: What is your projected OL lineup for Arky, and going forward?

It would be hard for me to move away from the lineup we’ve seen the last two weeks. I’m not sure how much of their strong play is due to it being a better group or the fact that it has come against ULM and Miss. State, but either way I would see what it looked like against Arkansas to begin with at least.


freeforall: In your opinion what are the factors holding Cowart and Holland back from more effectively challenging the starters?

It’s just tough to play defensive line on this level and it takes talent, athleticism, technique and a whole lot more. I think Byron Cowart’s issue is that he’s just not explosive enough to be a difference maker at defensive end right now. I think he’s going to eventually move inside and that should help. As for Jeff Holland, I think he’s going to continue to improve and he’s closer to turning the corner right now.


wtbtiger: Our defense has improved but why do you think we are still not getting enough sacks and interceptions?

I think the sacks will continue to come as Auburn faces more pocket passers. Facing teams like Clemson and Texas A&M made it difficult to get to the quarterback because of their athleticism and quick passing game. We’ve seen that increase the last couple of games and I think it will continue. As for the turnovers, those sometimes come in bunches and we’ve seen Auburn’s defense get a few more the last few games.


wtbtiger: We have not have many big plays from our running game. Do you think it is our personnel or do you think it is the way our offense is being structured around SW and the passing game?

I think it has a lot to do with not having a true running threat at quarterback. Even in 2013 Tre Mason wasn’t a guy that had long runs, the same with Cameron Artis-Payne. When teams commit so many guys to stopping the run it’s tough to get by seven or eight guys and take it the distance.


cycletiger: 1.  Will we see more passing out of the offense?  I'm happy so far, but

    I think we could be even better with about 10 more throws per game. 2.  Will we see more zone defense and more blitzing vs. Arky?  They target their TE's a lot, and run the drag route to death. Allen can  be forced into mistakes with heavy pressure.

I think the passing could and will increase as needed. Auburn threw it 16 times in the first half against Mississippi State, but didn’t need to do much of that with a 35-0 lead. I have thought somewhere between 25-30 would be the number and that’s still about the right target in my mind. Allen isn’t a big runner so I think it’s actually a little safer to play more man against the Hogs with Darrell Williams and Montavious Atkinson guys that could help out with the tight end.


HONKifUvCOACHED4BAMA: Does Brett Beluga wear that wind-breaker when it's windy or just when it's hot and humid?

The only time I have seen him not wear it was at SEC Media Days. Not sure what he’s going to do when it’s cold, probably wear shorts. I think he tries to do everything to show how the weather doesn’t bother him.


m5guy: I was excited to see Cox catch a couple of passes last week. Is this something you think we'll see more & more of? What kind of hands does Pettway have?

It’s something I have been waiting to see because it gives you another outlet in the passing game, especially when the tight end isn’t a target at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a game with three or four catches sometime this season, especially if Auburn continues to run it well. As for Pettway’s hands, they are actually pretty good and we got to see a little bit of that last Saturday.


tinye: Biggest surprise on the DL - Andrew Williams? Biggest disappointment on the DL - Devaroe Lawrence?

Yes and yes. I think the development of Williams has contributed somewhat to the disappearance of Lawrence so far, but it was his lack of attention to detail that opened up the door in the first place. Devaroe said the right things in the summer and preseason, but his lack of football experience still shows up because his work ethic day in and day out just doesn’t match what the other guys have done. Williams on the other hand has worked his tail off to become a player.


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