RHETT LASHLEE (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag: Football Tigers Begin Bowl Practices

Talking quarterbacks, coaching and much more as the Auburn Tigers open bowl practices preparing for Oklahoma.

alcar7: No injuries and no off field stuff: who starts at QB for Auburn next September and why?

I have a hard time not believing that Jarrett Stidham ends up as Auburn’s opening day starter, but it’s not going to be easy to beat out Sean White. Stidham’s physical skills will make it tough for White to overcome in my opinion.

carnellisanescalade: If Crime Dog leaves, what are some names to expect to hear to fill that spot?

The good news for Auburn is that Kevin Steele probably has more contacts in the business on the defensive side of the ball than anyone I’ve been around. Corey Raymond from LSU would be a great guy to target, but being at his alma mater makes that a tough sell. Someone interesting could be James Colzie. The former FSU defensive back is a head coach in Canada and has some history coaching the defensive backs. Obviously, a guy I like is Blake Gideon, who coached Auburn’s defensive backs in the Birmingham Bowl and was at Western Carolina coaching the safeties this year. His lack of experience is probably the biggest drawback for him from a recruiting standpoint.

tigerpi: Can you give a rundown of the RB's strengths. size, speed and what you expect from each

I am not sure if you’re talking about current backs or commitments, but I’ll go with the commitments. Octavius Matthews is about 6-0, 195 or so and has really good speed and quickness. He’s probably in the 4.5 range and has very good hands. I expect that to be his strength and how he will be used for the Tigers. Alaric Williams is 6-0, 200 with around 4.5 speed as well. He’s a physical back who should be at his best between the tackles. Devan Barrett rounds out the group at about 6-0, 185 or 190. He’s a 4.4 guy who also has good hands. He is a player who could return kicks and play in the slot if needed as well.

auburnNC89: What happened with CJ Avery? I thought we had him in the bag. If crimedog stays do we still have a shot?

I am not sure why you assumed Avery was coming to Auburn. I think you’ll see Avery end up at Ole Miss before all is said and done. I believe he didn’t come to Auburn because he knew if McGriff moved to Ole Miss he couldn’t make that flip. He can flip from Louisville and it won’t be an issue.

AUfanatic: Project the starting offensive line against Georgia Southern.

I will go with Darius James at left tackle, Mike Horton at left guard, Austin Golson at center, Braden Smith at right guard and Prince Tega at right tackle.

coreyc: Without naming names, how many QB's do you predict will be on the Auburn roster when we kickoff next fall?

I will go with five on the roster to open fall practice.

wtbtiger: Do you think Franklin will transfer or possibly move to another position next year?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see either happen. I lean more towards giving quarterback another shot and then moving to play cornerback next season. That would be what I would do.

wtbtiger: Do you think Lashlee will truly take over the offense and Gus will more of a head coach and not the co offensive coordinator?

Lashlee took over the offense this season from Gus and things worked really well until the injuries late in the season. He wasn’t the co-coordinator. It was Rhett’s show.

tcb4au: on the 10 coach rule, what position do u think he will coach and whom do u like to be the new coach?

They haven’t even passed the rule yet so there’s no way of knowing what direction things will go. I would go with an extra defensive back coach or a dedicated special teams coach. With so much passing and having a fifth defensive back on the field about 75 percent of the time I think having a coach to work with safeties and another to work with corners/nickel is a good idea.

AUtigeritaville: Where were the best places to eat at each away game you covered this year and what meal are you looking forward to in New Orleans?

This season there were no real true road trips so not much in the way of restaurants to worry about other than a stop at Firebird’s in Birmingham on the Friday night before the Iron Bowl. As for New Orleans there are plenty of options, but my main stop is on the way at The Shed in Ocean Springs, Miss. It’s my “can’t miss” place when I’m going to Louisiana.

MSandPHDatAU: What would you do to compete with Saban in football?

I think the biggest thing is to go hard and heavy on the line of scrimmage, particularly the defensive line. That’s where you can compete playing defense and keep yourself in the football game like we’ve seen from Auburn the past two seasons. The other thing is to work on developing the passing game. You have got to throw the ball to beat Alabama and while running is always the most important thing, if you’re not good enough to threaten them with the pass you have no chance.

justafanwde: What do you think Cannella's playing weight will be ?

My guess right now would be in the 240 range next season. I would see him being 250 or so by the time he’s a senior. I don’t think he’ll ever be one of those huge, physical tight ends.

24baldeagle: Will you be surprised if no changes are made on the offensive side of the ball? If not , do you see a change in strategy or the same philosophy as the last 2 years?

I won’t be surprised if there are changes on the offensive side of the ball, but I don’t think you’ll see a huge change in strategy. Gus Malzahn always wants to run the ball and that’s not going to change, but I do think you’ll see them continue to expand the passing game. They started some of that this season until White’s injury.

aunatchamps: Who do you think will be our next few recruits?

It’s tough to predict those things now because we’re in the dead period. Usually it takes until January before guys start to make decisions again and who that could be is anyone’s guess. I feel like Alec Jackson and Ryan Johnson, a pair of in-state prospects, are guys to watch on defense with Jackson maybe doing something before signing day.

autigerman: Jason did we really see a big jump in DB and S play this year? I thought we played as well as we did last year. Crime Dawg had Auburn players and didn't really play a kid he recruited? Will we let a coach already on board coach them or will Coach Steele coach them or find a new one? Thanks

I thought the group played well, but like is usually the case much of that comes from the front seven doing their job. Daniel Thomas was probably the only guy he really recruited late in the process and he turned into a really good freshman for the Tigers. McGriff is going to stay and coach the bowl game with Ole Miss not in a bowl this year. That’s good news for the Tigers.

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