Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag: Post-Georgia Hangover

As the Auburn football team faces Alabama A&M on Saturday in Senior Day at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Jason caldwell of Inside the Auburn Tigers answers questions about the Tigers.

Jeremy Johnson (above) is scheduled to start at quarterback on Senior Night.

eagle70: Who wins the state championships in football? 7a 6a 5a

My pick for 7A is Hoover because of its defense. I don’t trust Hoover's offense a whole lot, but they are really tough on defense. In 6A I guess I would go with Park Crossing, but it’s tough to pick against Spanish Fort because of its defense as well. For 5A I’m going with Scottsboro because of quarterback Bo Nix and that offense.

southgeorgiatiger: After sitting in Sanford Stadium and watching the offensive debacle we had....What changed so much to allow our offense not to move the ball for a single first down in the second half. Lashlee says they were close. To watch UK put up 24 on this team the week before and other teams score plenty of points, hard to believe we didn't even get a 1st down in the half. Did uga make some great adjustments? Was KJ just too banged up? Was our oline overmatched by uga freshmen and sophomores? Is Kirby the second coming of Saban? What is the lesson for Lashlee going forward? I'm really tired of losing to uga!

I don’t think it had anything to do with Georgia’s defense other than some run blitzing to create some long yardage situations. I think it simply came down to Auburn trying to throw the football too much because the Tigers didn’t think Kerryon could carry it 30 times. Once Stanton Truitt got hurt it really put them in bind. I would have liked to see Chandler Cox in the wildcat a few more times and Eli Stove get more touches, but once they were down to just one back I think they pressed too much. Even with that if Ryan Davis, Marcus Davis and Kameron Martin catch passes the Tigers probably still win.

aunatchamps: I just love listening to Coach Pearl. Best thing that ever could have happened to Auburn Basketball. Fantastic personality. In college football ranks, who would be the most like Coach Pearl?

I think the guy in college football who is most like Bruce Pearl is probably P.J. Fleck from Western Michigan. He is wide open all the time and will be at a big-time program this time next season. He’s the next big thing in the college football world.

gtwstock: What is really going on with Jeremy Johnson? Is the sole reason he hasn't played a coaches decision on playing ability or are there other factors? What are those factors. His QB efficiency last season puts him smack dab in the middle of the SEC QB's this season, but he's not playing ahead of a QB that had issues getting on the field at Scooba U. Does he have a chance to do the Graduate Transfer thing or is that malarkey?

I think the question was answered on Thursday about Jeremy when he was named the starter for this week's game. I believe he’s the guy they want to be ready for the Iron Bowl in case White can’t go. The coaches still think he’s a guy who can get it done and in that scenario his experience could be important.

cycletiger: If Sean White and Kam Pettway are not available for the Iron Bowl, do you think that we have time to develop an offensive alignment that could have Jeremy Johnson and JFIII on the field at the same time?

I just don’t know what that would accomplish having those two on the field at the same time. I think they need to work on being prepared this weekend for whatever they will want to do against Alabama in case those guys can’t play.

wtbtiger: It is obvious the coaches have no confidence in JF3 at QB. Is it because he cannot throw or afraid of fumbling?

I think it’s probably some of both. They haven’t trusted him enough to throw the ball in games this season and that has been a mistake in my opinion. They should have opened up the offense when they had the opportunity with him this year so at least they would know what they had with him. That’s why they’re going with Johnson this week.

poboy4AU: Pettway is in his third year.  Do you think he will do the unthinkable and declare?

I’ll never say never, but I think he’s got to show he can be a dependable back. He’s missed two full games and part of another this season with his quad injury. That’s something I think he needs to come back and show and also the ability to finish off runs.

AUfred: In your opinion will we see Jeremy Johnson play anymore snaps at QB for Auburn?

I absolutely think we’ll see him Saturday against Alabama A&M, but even before he was announced as this week's starter I have thought all along that somewhere this season he was going to make a big play.

bigplayer2404: What do you predict will happen with Stidham and if we miss on him what is our plan B or do we have a plan B? Also is the poor QB recruiting due to the recruiter or the system?

Right now I’m still leaning on Jarrett Stidham coming to Auburn. This team has a lot of young talent and would be a pretty good spot to jump in and compete for a job next season. If it doesn’t happen I could see Auburn making a strong run at Kadarius Toney from Blount. He’s a dynamic quarterback who could also play another position if needed. It may depend on bowl practices and what the coaches see from Woody Barrett. If they feel good about how he looks it may give them some flexibility at the position.

AUtigeritaville: With this being the last home game of 2016, what new game day additions have you liked and what should end or be changed?

It’s tough for me to think about because much of the time I’m so busy that I’m not really paying attention. I do think the drone dropping the football to Aubie is something I would end.

wtbtiger: Who do you see leaving for NFL draft early?

Number one in my mind is Carl Lawson. Just staying healthy for him has been the main goal and with his production it should allow him to be taken in the first round or two. After that there are just question marks for me. I don’t think either Braden Smith or Austin Golson should go because both need to work on things. On defense I could see Tray Matthews leaving just because he’s a fourth-year guy, but he definitely could help himself staying another year. Pettway is the wildcard guy because he’s already got a family. I think he needs to show he’s durable and that could make him some money with another year in the offense.

givhandy: Coach Steele mentioned them being prepared with a Plan B for missing players due to injuries, ie, Cowart. Do the offensive coaches have a Plan B for players being out due to injury, specifically QB? They did not seem willing/capable to implement it last week if they did. Who got the reps in practice last week if SW did not take any snaps? With a week of reps with the ones, was that second string QB not able to give our O at least a chance to get a first down in the second half?

It’s much easier to have a Plan B on Monday, such as the case with Cowart, than it is when you get into a game and one of your guys goes down. That’s what you saw Saturday in Athens with Stanton Truitt. Already without Pettway, they were counting on Truitt to carry some of the load and he got hurt on his first play. It's tough to pull many more strings when Kerryon Johnson is already less than 100 percent. As for quarterback, as I mentioned earlier I think they set themselves up for what happened on Saturday by not letting Franklin do more earlier in the year. They didn’t trust him because he hasn’t done it, but they also haven’t given him enough of a chance to show it either. That’s why we’ll see Johnson on Saturday.

DCCPT: I think we need Rudy Ford more on offense now than defense. Do you think they will use him at RB this week and possibly give him a bigger role to prepare him for Bama?

I agree that I think Rudy’s role should at least be to get some touches on offense. With Stephen Roberts playing very well right now and having Tray Matthews, Nick Ruffin, Markell Boston and Daniel Thomas, that’s a good group of guys to work with at the safeties and nickel. Also, Josh Holsey can slide inside to nickel if needed.

AUPMBA: What kept Rhett/Gus from making a change at QB or better yet sticking to the game plan that worked in the first half?  You would think after the pick 6 and the three in outs the light would turn on for offensive staff.  Thanks!!

That is the question we had immediately following the game as well. I think the pick six really hit them hard and the rest of the half was spent chasing those points trying to get them back. The tough part is the Tigers had opportunities to get it done and either out-thought themselves on a few third and short plays or had guys open and the ball was dropped.

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