Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag: Auburn Football Quarterback Talk And More

Jason Caldwell answers questions regarding Auburn football and basketball in his weekly mailbag column.

MSandPHDatAU: Out of who we have committed, is there anyone that you see as a starter day 1 next year?

A good thing about this team is that there aren’t too many holes heading into next season with the exception of a few positions. A few of those are on the offensive line where you normally don’t expect a true freshman to come in and play right away. Elsewhere on offense the 2017 team should be in pretty good shape. On defense Marlon Davidson was really a special player and what we saw this year was very usual. I don’t expect any of the incoming guys to be a starter from day one, but I could see a guy like K.J. Britt getting into the mix for playing time next year.

bghayes: Is SW really 100% or is that just wild positive thinking by Sean? I hope he is and ditto for Pettway so what is the best prognosis for them in your opinions?

I think Sean could get close to 100 percent by the time they get back on the field in New Orleans. He would have been over seven weeks since playing against Georgia and that’s a lot of time to get healthy. I think the same is true of Pettway. He obviously wasn’t 100 percent for Alabama, but another month should be great for him to get closer to full speed. The same is true of Kerryon Johnson, who hasn’t been full speed since Mississippi State.

AUTD2: If the big game was on the line and Auburn had a last play, game winning FG to kick from 45 yds, which of Auburn's great kickers would you want kicking it?

There have been a lot of great ones like you mentioned, but it would be tough for me not to pick Daniel Carlson. His leg strength and accuracy make him the best I’ve seen. He’s pretty darn clutch, too.

AUPMBA: Do you see John Franklin III leaving to lower division school to play immediately or going to staff and changing positions?

I think it all depends on what happens at the quarterback position during bowl practices and in the spring. He showed some glimpses that he could help the team at quarterback if given the chance to continue to work on his game, but if Stidham picks the Tigers that definitely puts him behind the eight-ball.

mgmzebra: If Stidham does not sign with AU who is next most likely QBs that will be a Tiger?

That’s the million dollar question. I still think deep down Tray Bishop wants a shot to play the position and that could be with Auburn. If no Stidham, however, I think the Tigers will definitely sign another guy to come in and compete for the job whether thatis from the grad transfer or juco route. Right now they are focused on Stidham, but my guess is they're at least checking out some other guys just in case they need to move quickly.

SocialCircle: Why do you think Stidham delayed his commitment date? Is it  because another team has entered the picture or because he wanted to see if Briles landed somewhere or if he wanted to see if Lashlee took a head coaching position somewhere or what? Are there any red flags for him as it relates to Auburn except the possibility that Lashlee might take a head coaching job?

I don’t think he ever put a date out to make a decision. I said last month that he planned to make a decision by the middle of December and we’re not there yet. There is no reason for him to rush a decision knowing that he’ll have a chance to win the job in the spring so even if he waits until later in the month I don’t think it’s necessarily a negative for Auburn. The coaches are still very much in touch with him and have constant contact.

AUtigeritaville: Which other player(s) do you think, that's buried in the depth chart, could pull a "Pettway" by changing positions and flourishing?

That’s an interesting question because I really could see Marquis McClain making a lot of noise when he gets his opportunity next season. I still believe that’s going to be as a hybrid tight end, something that could be a great addition to the offense. On defense I think a guy to really watch is Derrick Brown. I think he’s going to be a monster next season.

eagle70: What position, in your opinion, is our greatest area of need in what is left of recruiting?

I think getting another true tight end is really important even if it’s just for the red zone opportunities, but for me I would put the number one need as a pass rusher. You’ve got to have players who can get to the quarterback and likely losing Carl Lawson leaves a hole for this team. I do think that Nick Coe is going to be fun to watch in that role and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a true freshman linebacker like Tadarian Moultry get a look there, too.

SandhillsTiger: What is the status of Brodarius Hamm? Is he on scholarship and will he begin winter workouts? Also will TaShawn Manning be here in Jan?

Hamm is on campus and was on scholarship this fall. I am not sure when he will be fully cleared, but he’s been able to do some training already. As for Manning, he is expected to be on campus in January after finishing his treatments this fall. Just having both guys in Auburn and being part of things is great news. Hopefully, they will be able to help sometime soon.

KJTiger: What do you see or do you for see in way of changes to the offense or offensive staff for next year? I am concerned that there will be no changes to anything offensive related unless people move to other jobs. What in your opinion are the deficiencies with this offense and offensive staff? I understand injuries play a role but we seem to really regress when we have injuries.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some changes on the staff sometime after the bowl game. Those things usually sort themselves out then and with so many changes around the country that usually finds its way to a lot of different staffs. As for Auburn I thought the offense was actually much better once Rhett Lashlee took over, but like I’ve said repeatedly the issue they’ve got to fix is being able to run an offense with a second quarterback. Auburn actually played pretty well through injuries, but when White, Pettway, Johnson and Stanton Truitt were all either out or hurt late in the year it was tough to overcome.

No7Tiger: Do you think the coaches see that they may have under utilized Kyle Davis? Would like to have seen him get more opportunities in the last 2 SEC games. Especially on some one on ones. Also, Eli Stove looked really good at times this year. How do you see his delveloent and that of Nate Myers going forward?

I think his under-utilization late in the year is directly related to the loss of Sean White. Once the passing game went in the tank he became less and less of a factor for some reason. I am not sure why, but I would have to believe he’s a guy you get more touches with along with all of the other freshmen moving forward. They’re definitely very talented.

auhoppa: After seeing the bball team in action, do you think we could be in the NCAA's with the addition of Austin Wiley?

There’s no question in my mind that Wiley would really help this team right away if he’s cleared and playing in December. He is not likely going to be a major scorer or rebounder right away, but just adding a big body in the paint from a defensive perspective could be important for the Tigers. With Wiley this Auburn team could make a run at the postseason without question, but to make the NCAA’s it will take some big road wins from a very young team.

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