Jason's Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag--Iron Bowl Week

Jason Caldwell of Inside the Auburn Tigers answers football and basketball questions as the football Tigers prepare to face Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

freebird1: Give me your top 5 Iron Bowls.

I think it’s a tie for the top five games for me. Just about any list has to include 1972’s Punt Bama Punt. It would be hard to imagine a more memorable fourth quarter than one that includes blocking two punts that were returned for touchdowns to win.

Fast forward 10 years to my second game, 1982’s Bo Over The Top in Legion Field. That game signaled that Auburn was back under Coach Pat Dye and really changed things forever in the rivalry in my opinion. That game led to a huge growth in popularity for the Auburn Tigers in the state.

No Iron Bowl talk could go on without including 1989. If 1982 set the tone for change, 1989’s first game in Auburn cemented Auburn’s place in the rivalry. No more playing in the “neutral” site known as Legion Field. There will never be another atmosphere like that game on that day.

Next up for me is the comeback game in 2010 in Tuscaloosa. Being on the field that day I never had the sense that Auburn was out of the game despite the big lead for Alabama, something that was the trademark of that team and season. To finish the year with a national title makes the game even more important.

Rounding out my top five is the Kick Six in 2013. It’s going to perhaps be the most remembered college football game of all time because of the way it finished, but lost in that was the back and forth between two good football teams. Nick Marshall’s play in the fourth quarter was special to see and to see Auburn execute a play to perfection to win the game was something I’ll never forget.

SunKistSky: Is it better for Pettway to play Saturday at 80% or not play at all? I hope he is 100%, but am assuming he is somewhere below that.

Unlike the quarterback position, getting a few carries out of Kamryn Pettway at 80 percent could absolutely be worth it. Making Alabama tackle him a few times will at a minimum put the pressure on their defense and if he can stretch out a little who knows how it would feel. It’s definitely worth a shot if he’s able to go.

auchamps: How do you prefer your turkey: baked, smoked, or deep fried? War Eagle and Happy Thanksgiving.

I like it all ways, but I would have to go with fried if I had my choice. Throw in a little cajun spice and I’m good to go.

m5guy: I felt pretty good about this game after the MS State, Arkansas & Ole Miss games - now I don't feel very confident at all. I know we have had injuries galore but which team shows up - the Arkansas game team or Georgia game team? How do you feel & what must we do to win in addition to playing mistake free?

I think the injuries had a direct impact on which team showed up at Georgia. It’s tough to play without your top two offensive players healthy, especially if one is a quarterback, which is what happened in Athens. Auburn has to find a way to move the football when the Tigers are not at their best, however, and Saturday that means being able to make plays in the passing game. This Alabama defense is going to force the issue at the line of scrimmage and if the Tigers can’t throw the ball or won’t throw the ball then it’s going to be a long day. Throwing it successfully will open up some room in the running game, which is essential.

LoveAU: Truthfully...how do you think our recruiting is going? I am so thankful for all of you! Happy Thanksgiving!

I think recruiting is going very well. The Tigers need to add another QB in this class and the obvious target is former Baylor standout Jarrett Stidham. Everything else is going well at the moment but the need for a pass rusher is important as well. I think adding a guy like Tyler Taylor or Markaviest Bryant would be big.

wtbtiger: Do you think Gus will hire an offensive consultant? If so who do think it would be?

Honestly, I would be shocked to see Gus Malzahn hire an offensive consultant to talk about his own offense. When Sean White and Kamryn Pettway were healthy this season the Tigers played as well as anybody on the country. I think the offense is headed in a good direction provided they find another QB capable of getting the job done.

mattree: Jason why do you think no one is giving AU a chance in the Iron Bowl? For me, this bammer team is clearly not one of the better ones they have had in the last several years. I do agree they are a very good football team, but lets see how they do against a team that is not going to give them points.

I think your last sentence is the key. If Auburn doesn’t give Alabama direct points via the turnover or short fields then the Tigers could be in the game until the end. The question right now is does Auburn have enough offense to push theTigers over the top. LSU’s defense played well, but that tea, couldn’t make plays in the passing game and allowed Alabama to stuff the run. That’s what can’t happen on Saturday.

tunicatiger: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being most likely, what number would you give today for Auburn adding to their basketball roster between semesters this school year?

I would probably put the number at about a 6 right now. It’s still to be determined if Austin Wiley will graduate early and join the team, but it’s a possibility.

JusPlainWedge: IB W/L record when both teams are ranked in the top 25... top 15?

I’m not sure about Top 15 rankings, but from my count I think Auburn leads Alabama 12-6 in the last 50 years when both teams are ranked in the Top 25. That’s a pretty strong number of success for the Tigers when both teams are good.

SandhillsTiger: Jason, do you think we offer another QB in this class if Stidham decides to go elsewhere? If so who would be the best option?

I think the guy to watch right now is former Auburn baseball commitment Bubba Thompson from McGill-Toolen in Mobile. He has added offers from Tennessee and Ole Miss this fall as a quarterback and is someone the Tigers are taking a closer look at. The coaches will get a chance to see him in person next week when McGill-Toolen faces Hoover in the 7A title game at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Wednesday night.

AugTiger: Which recruits are expected to enroll early this year?

At the moment among the committed players I think it’s defensive back Malcolm Askew, offensive lineman Nick Brahms and linebacker K.J. Britt. Auburn is also in the mix for several players who could enroll early as well, including quarterback Jarrett Stidham and defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs.

autigerman: What profesional team coaching staff would Gus confide in to help him personally be a better play caller on game day? Would he send his offensive staff to a pro camp day or week?

Since Gus isn’t calling plays any longer I’m not sure why that would be a consideration. Last year they spent time at Baylor and they’ve talked to several different coaching staffs each of the last few seasons. It’s something that happens often in college football, but most of the time people don’t read about the connections and time spent with other coaches.


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories