PRINCE TEGA WANOGHO JR. (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column

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

Tiger82: Talk about Prince Tega. How someone who is that gifted from a size and athletic perspective can become a contributor in major college football in a few short years is interesting. I saw some videos of him in high school and it looked like the Cam commercial where Cam is playing with 8-year-olds. It's obvious that the size and athleticism are there, but most boys growing up in Alabama have simply absorbed so much football knowledge in 18 years and he obviously does not have that. What do the coaches do to bring him up to the level of innate football knowledge/instincts his teammates have? How easily does he pick it up? What's it like to coach someone like that -- I guess it's a blank slate to an extent.

I always think back to something that Hugh Nall told me when he was coaching Auburn's offensive line. He said he would rather have defensive linemen and turn them into offensive linemen in college because they had no bad habits. I think that’s part of it with Tega because he’s a blank slate, who also happens to be a sponge. The coaches talk about how quickly he picks up on things and that’s important because the subtle nuances of the game are things he will probably be behind others in for years to come so everything he can do to get the job done is important.

 

AUpoker: Are there any physical characteristics that make a player a better cornerback or one that plays nickel?

Nothing specifically because you’ve got to have the ability to cover and also be willing to stick your nose in the middle of the action to help with the running game. With so many teams spreading the field that is the same thing you need at cornerback. I think nowadays you can probably get away with using smaller guys at nickel because normally the smaller, quicker receivers will line up in the slot. The move of D.D. Westbrook to the slot in the Sugar Bowl and matching him up with Daniel Thomas was probably the biggest adjustment made in that game because it really hurt the Tigers.

 

DozerTiger: Do you think the three suspended softball players will be back this year? How crippling is their loss?

That’s a good question. It’s possible they could be suspended the rest of the year, but I think that would have been announced if that were the decision. My guess is a week or two for them with plenty of extra work that has to be done. As for how crippling it is, I think it’s going to be a big blow especially heading on the road. Fagan’s loss will be felt at the plate and it may be just as big defensively. Obviously, taking Martin out of the rotation is an issue, but she’s just 2-3 with a 5.96 ERA in SEC games this season. Sometimes throwing a few different arms at a team can keep them off balance. We will see if that works for the Tigers.

 

gtwstock: Two pitching questions: First, how does Mize find a path to pitch this weekend if he doesn't get a bullpen session...and if does throw one, would it be too soon to come back after that and pitch some innings Sunday?

With McKayla out for the near future, do you just take your lumps with whatever you get from Swindle and Abbott in game 2 or do you risk fatiging your ace and use her as much as she can go on the weekend? My suggestion is to only use Kaylee as we have used her previously.

Unless I’m way off I think the decision has pretty much already been made that Mize won’t pitch this weekend. There is not enough turnaround time for him. I think they’re going to rest him and bring him back next week at Mississippi State. As for softball, I would see what I got from Ashlee Swindle and/or Jenna Abbott and see what happens. I’m not risking throwing Kaylee all three games.

 

AUHighmark: Care to name the biggest jerk of a coach you've had to interview while he/she was at Auburn? Also, would you vote for Tubs for Gov?

Let’s just say that getting phone calls at home questioning baseball stories by the previous coach made for a difficult two years after what seemed like a pretty good transition. It didn't take too long to see the real person. As for Tubs, I think he would surround himself with really capable people if he won so I could see myself voting for him.

 

dewayne: Do you think Whitney Jordan will take over at short like last season? And having Carlson and Swindle do we have someone else who can eat a few  Innings?

There are several options. Jordan obviously has experience there so that makes her the likely candidate. You could also move Casey McCrackin to short and play KK Crocker at second. Another option would be to move Kendall Veach to third and Kasey Cooper to short with Jenna Abbott or even Justus Perry at first. Abbott could eat up some innings from the left side. It would be interesting to see her and Swindle tag team a game because it would be such different looks.

 

wtbtiger: How often do the college athletes get tested for drugs? Who administers the tests and where are the results sent? What are some off the banned substances that are violations in the college athletes program. Are women tested as much men?

Everything is done randomly unless you have a positive test result or a coach, trainer, etc. suspects use. Then a test can be assigned to a player. They have an independent group that administers the test and also a lab to test the results. At Auburn marijuana is considered a one-point offense while all other banned substances are three point offenses. Penalties come down based on point system. One Point=One year probation, Two Points=Suspension for 25 percent of team’s season, Three Points=Suspension for 50 percent of team’s season, Four Points=Suspension for 100 percent of team’s season, Five Points=Permanent loss of playing status at Auburn University.

 

Actman: What advice would you give to an Auburn fan that has never been to an Auburn Women's Softball game? Tickets, seating, parking, folding chairs permitted inside, etc.

Probably the best advice would be to get there pretty early because there isn’t a whole lot of parking for Jane B. Moore Field. I would try to arrive early enough to park in the surrounding area adjacent to the intramural fields. If not you may have to do a little walking. Tickets are only sold now in general admission because season tickets sold out so you’ll have to arrive and stand in line to try to get tickets. No folding chairs are permitted. The seats are either chair back down low or grandstand-type seats up top.


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