GUS MALZAHN (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column: Football, Basketball, Baseball & Softball Are Featured

Talking a variety of sports in this week's loaded Friday Auburn Mailbag.

aunatchamps: Looks like we will have 2 basketball scholarships available for next year. Any names that you have heard that we might be going after? Juco or grad transfer?

Most of the grad transfer guys will happen in the coming weeks once the season is complete. That’s where I expect Auburn to look right now in addition to keeping an eye on a couple of guys outside the U.S. One of those is Roberts Blumbergs from Latvia. He’s a 6-10 stretch four who could be a good addition for the Tigers because of his ability to play away from the basket.

 

BEATUAT: Who have you heard for possible Power 5 opponent for the 2020 season?

I haven’t heard of anyone in particular, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Auburn try to get another neutral site game considering that’s a year where you travel to both Georgia and Alabama to end the year. With Washington in 2018 in Atlanta and Oregon in 2019 in Jerry World, maybe Orlando would be a good spot to open the season.

 

Actman: I know the season is still very young? But based on what you have seen to date how does this year's Women's Softball Team compare to last years?  Is this a better or not better team - to date?

I think this team is going to have a great chance to make another deep run in the WCWS, but ultimately how well the bottom half of the lineup hits is going to tell the tale in my opinion. They’re going to need someone to step up and make good things happen. If you look up at the end of the year and Kendall Veach, Courtney Shea and Alyssa Rivera have combined for 25 or more home runs then that would be huge in terms of run production, something they’re going to need. That will make teams have to pitch more to the big three.

 

au3020: In baseball SEC play begins today.  You have seen this team all through the pre-SEC schedule.  What record do you predict for Auburn in the 30 game SEC play this year(not counting possible rain outs)?

I think this team could be from 13-17 to 16-14 if they can avoid getting swept in any of the league three-game series. That’s the key to SEC baseball--just don’t get swept and you win 10 games at a minimum. With Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize going every weekend that should help the Tigers avoid dropping all three.

 

settindown: Any Kyle Davis sightings around the football complex?

I saw Kyle before spring practice started but I haven’t noticed him around, but I also haven’t been looking for him.

 

MSandPHDatAU: What are your thoughts on Gus as a CEO type coach?

I actually think he’s really bought into being that guy after getting a taste of it last season. Just from talking to him one-on-one before Chip Lindsey was announced, I know he’s excited about turning the offense over to him. Like any other profession coaching is about learning and adapting. I think he’s done a lot of that in the last year and it should help him and the team.

 

gtwstock: Are there any throwing limitations on Sean White at this point? When will Horace Spencer be able to lift weights again (upper body)?

The only limitations for White are just number of throws. He’s able to throw the ball and throw it well, but he’s on a pitch count right now to ease him back into things. From what I saw before spring break his arm looks as good as it has in a long time. As for Spencer, Bruce Pearl said it was an 8-9 month rehab, which means probably late in the summer before he begins real workouts. He’ll be doing some rehab work and easing back into things probably in late May or early June.

 

nhill76: Based on your observations, how has Woody Barrett looked in you and Mark's eyes this spring?

I think probably the biggest thing that Woody has done is change his body shape. He’s lost weight and looks really good. It has helped him on the field as well as he looks to be moving well and arm strength has never been an issue. With Lindsey working on fundamentals I think he’s a guy who could really take a big step forward this spring.

 

AUTigerBSME90: How is Ian Shannon looking at punter?

So far he’s looking good but it’s hard to tell until they get in a live situation and do some scrimmage work. He’s got a huge leg so that’s not an issue. Can he be consistent enough? That’s the question. Holder Tyler Stovall is pretty good as well and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make a real run.

 

AUTD2: What's the status of Tannon Snow?

She is back home in California but still enrolled at Auburn. Coach Clint Myers said she has changed medications and is doing well (with an undisclosed illness). He said she’s looking forward to being back at Auburn and playing for the Tigers next season along with sister Taylon Snow.

 

wtbtiger: Who do you think will be our offensive and defensive starters coming out of spring practice?

That’s a question that can’t be answered yet because they won’t have starters until at least early in preseason practices. They may have guys who are on the first-team, but this staff wants to see how well the guys perform in scrimmage-type situations, which they’ll have a few of later in spring practice. I know it sounds like I’m dodging the question, but one thing I have learned is that just because a guy is working with the first group one day doesn’t make him a starter. It doesn't even mean he will be with the first group for the next practice. Deciding on starters is a long way down the road.

 

aunatchamps: I am very impressed with Stuart Carter's analysis of Auburn football. Does Auburn already have someone on staff that does the same thing or could Auburn hire Stuart?

Auburn has graduate assistants and analysts who look at statistical trends, playcalling trends and break down different aspects of the games. It’s definitely much more a part of the game than it has been in the past.

 

m5guy: Do you see JFIII having a significant role as a WR & does he have "good hands"? Is there any possibility at all that we see him as a kick off returner? He seemed to have fumble issues last year at times.

He’s got pretty good hands as a receiver and with his speed he could do some things, but you’re right about fumbles. If he struggles holding onto the football it will be tough for him to make much of an impact in my opinion.

 

SandhillsTiger: Do you have an update on whether Kevin Davis will be a factor in baseball this year?

Unfortunately, I don’t think Kevin will ever be the guy that he could have been because of his arm issues. He just doesn’t have life in his fastball and that’s a shame for a guy who was throwing 93-94 miles per hour in high school. Too much use before he got to college killed his chances on the next level. Kevin is a great kid and he’s been a great teammate for these guys.

 

fredl: I know we're not through the Spring yet but how do you see the West shaking out in 2017? It's a good year to finish with UGA and bama at home. I like our chances but LSU could be interesting too.

I think Auburn has a chance to play with anybody if the offense takes a step forward in the passing game. That makes things interesting right out of the gate. LSU lost a lot of experienced guys on both sides of the ball. They’ve got plenty of talent, but I’m still not sold on their QB to be a guy who can beat you. Alabama will be good again, but I’m wondering how a pro-style offense looks with its two running quarterbacks. Arkansas will be solid again and Texas A&M has some talent, but I think things set up well for Auburn if Jarrett Stidham becomes the guy many think he’s capable of being.


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