MUSTAPHA HERON (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column

Talking Auburn football, basketball, recruiting and much more in a packed edition of the Friday Mailbag.

ware12: Why do you think the NFL, hasn't adopted the college overtime process?  The NFL's stinks for teams and fans, and college is awesome for both.

I think it simply comes down to protecting the players. Having 16 regular season games already makes it a grind. Putting a small roster in a game where you might have to play four or five overtimes isn’t something I believe the will be too fired up about. I like the college rules better, but I don’t mind the NFL’s too much either. If you want a shot with the ball don’t give up a touchdown.

 

m5guy: Jason - rank the following 3 possibilities with 1 being most likely & 3 least likely. Women's Softball winning it all in OKC; Men's Basketball reaching any type post-season tournament or the 2017 Football Tigers making the playoffs. Thanks!

I would easily go with Auburn men’s basketball making some sort of postseason play this year. They are already very much within striking distance and with this team I think it will do whatever it takes to play in a postseason tournament. After that I would go with softball because of what they’ve done the last two seasons and the fact that they’re on track again even though the offense is struggling at the moment. Getting Tannon Snow in the lineup will make them a different group entirely. I do think football has a shot, but I would put the other two ahead of them.

 

wtbtiger: With the addition of new coaches,how and what area do you think they will cover in football? Who do you rate our top recruiters and what makes a top recruiter?

I’m guessing you’re asking about recruiting areas? I think they’ll continue to evolve as the staff changes. I don’t expect any sweeping changes in terms of areas, but I expect they will have Larry Porter in parts of Louisiana and in South Florida. Chip Lindsey will stay close to Auburn, recruiting the local schools and Montgomery. As for rating top recruiters they’re all pretty good in my opinion. I think Tim Horton is a very underrated and does a great job. I’ll be interested to see how the three new coaches do in this cycle, especially Greg Brown because the secondary has a lot of bodies and not many seniors.

 

wtbtiger: What do you attribute our second half collapse in the second half in basketball? Do you expect this trend to continue for the rest of the season?

I think the Tigers will continue to struggle at times in making adjustments on the fly, which is the toughest thing to do for a young team. They have had great plans and execution in the first half of games, but having to adjust in the second half has been an issue following a strong 20 minutes. It is tough to know what to change if you’re doing everything well.

 

Jello1: Jason, Next year's men's basketball team, who will be our best lock down man to man defender. I believe bryce Brown is probably the best defender this year, but not somebody that can guard three positions and shut down the other team's best player. Last night a very good defender on Berry would have changed the outcome.

I think Mustapha Heron is the guy that has the best chance of being that player. Even though he’s a five-star talent, Heron has a grinder mentality. It’s just hard to know how important defense is until you’ve gone through a season on this level. I believe he and the rest of the young guys will all be better defensively next season.

 

SandhillsTiger: What are the territories the current football assistants cover in recruiting?

As I mentioned earlier, I think those will undergo some shifting with three new guys on board. Of the guys still on staff you have Rodney Garner in Birmingham, central Alabama and in Atlanta. Tim Horton in North Alabama, Memphis, Arkansas, Travis Williams in parts of Atlanta, Mobile, Herb Hand in the Northeast and D.C. areas along with South Florida, Kodi Burns in parts of Georgia, panhandle of Florida and Louisiana, Kevin Steele in Mobile and South Florida as well.

 

AUTigerBSME90: Can you give us your early 2017 2-deep depth chart for football?

I couldn’t even begin to think about a two-deep for the 2017 season yet. We have to at least get into spring a little bit to see how things are shaking out on the offensive line first. I would have a whole lot of questions myself about what it could look like. I’ll try to take a run at a spring depth chart before they get started.

 

Mobilegolfer: how many coaches and analysts are allowed in the press box during football games. What is the make-up for Auburn?

I don’t think there is a set number on how many are allowed in the press box. Auburn usually has most of its position coaches on the field during games. It's just the way they like to do things. Analysts were in the box last year along with Kevin Steele and Herb Hand.

 

AUtigeritaville: With all the talk of Bruce Pearl's history and philosophy leading to lower ranked defenses, what schools have won conference or NCAA championships with our style of basketball. My first though are those 90s Arkansas teams but I don't know how their defense was overall.

Tennessee won a ton of games and made an Elite 8 playing this style so there is precedent for it to have worked. By far the most successful SEC program, Kentucky, plays an up-tempo offensive style like the Tigers do. As Auburn puts a more experienced lineup on the court I would expect the defensive consistency to improve.

AUTigerBSME90: What do you think we need to do in order to get back to the level of success we saw under David Marsh in Swimming?

It would take the hiring of a superstar coach with the type of passion for success David Marsh brought to the job along with exceptional financial support from the university to help the program become elite again.

AUTigerBSME90: Have you ever seen a more productive non-starter at AU as a true freshman as Anfernee McLemore has been for us? Do you foresee him being an all conference type player as an upper classman?

I can’t remember a guy coming off the bench who has been as good as McLemore in a while as a true freshman. He reminds me a lot of Vot Barber, but Vot started every game after the opener as a freshman. Probably the closest in terms of production, even though they were different types of forwards, was Mike Jones. He didn’t start a game and averaged 8.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 19.8 minutes as a freshman. He could have been a great one.

 

AUTigerBSME90: What result or emphasis are you most looking forward to in the Spring pertaining to the football team? I've probably exceeded my limit for questions this week, but I think they are all relevant.

I think an increased emphasis in the passing game. I’m looking forward to seeing the young wide receivers really take a step forward. That’s something that could make this Auburn offense very, very dangerous when you add in more throws. Something else is just who steps up rushing the passer. They need to find a few guys to step up getting after the quarterback.

 

rosebud: Do you expect Bruce Pearl's staff to remain intact for next season?

I expect the staff to remain intact unless guys get other opportunities, which is very possible. Chuck Person is going to have opportunities to be a head coach once again and that could happen if the right job comes along.


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