KAMRYN PETTWAY (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Jason Caldwell's Friday Auburn Mailbag Column

Talking Auburn football, basketball, baseball and softball in this edition of the Friday Auburn Mailbag column

aunatchamps: I know I sound like a broken record, but any chance we will use our 2 available scholarships this year? Grad transfer potential names? Give to hard working walkons like football and Waddell a couple years ago?

I think the plans right now are much the same as I talked about a few weeks ago. In a perfect world I believe they would like to bring in a transfer like Desean Murray, a player that would come in and redshirt before playing for the Tigers. I think with the other scholarship they could either hold it for 2018 because of the possibility of several exits after next year or they could take a chance on a late guy in the 2017 class.

 

DRJ75: Jason, please explain to me how softball schedules are determined. For instance, we didn't play Alabama at all last year until the SEC tourney and none of our girls or coaches on our team have ever played in Tuscaloosa ? How does that happen....? Why aren't we playing them every year rotating between Auburn and Tuscaloosa like the baseball team does.....?

Basically with 13 teams in the league playing softball (Vandy being the exception), you play eight conference series with four teams off the schedule each year and it’s a constant rotation. You play every team in the league home and away within a three-year period. That’s why Alabama played at Auburn in 2015 and Auburn returns the favor this year in 2017. Auburn will either play Alabama at home again next season or 2019 at the latest. I am still not sure why the league doesn’t play 10 series like baseball. It seems to me that would be the best thing for everyone involved.

 

m5guy: It seems as if the bats are starting to come alive for the Baseball & Softball Tigers at the right time of the year. I feel pretty confident about us taking the series in both baseball & softball vs bammer this weekend & possibly a sweep in both if we play error free & continue to hit. I feel a little better about a sweep in baseball than softball because Osorio is pretty strong on the mound for them. Your thoughts on both series? Thanks!

Could both Auburn teams sweep this weekend? Sbsolutely. Do I think that will happen? Probably not. I agree that I like the baseball team’s chances better because they’re at home and playing not nearly as good of an opponent. That being said, both Auburn baseball and softball have problems scoring runs at times and when that’s the case you have to win close games. That means a break here or there is all it takes to be the difference between winning and losing.

 

aubtime: hey Jason, Draper would be a great lead off hitter ( not that she is bad ) if she could hit line drives that would make the defense respect her hitting. I know she has to practice her bread and butter but does she put in much practice on swinging away much? I would love to see her get up there and just try to hit it as hard as see can every now and then. I still like her leading off.

I would like to see the top of the order look like this. draper, revera, cooper, Wallace, Fagan and veach

Draper works on swinging away and has improved that part of her game a great deal as the season has progressed. Much like Tiffany Howard, I think she’ll have a chance to make some plays the more she gets productive swinging away. As for the lineup, I like Alyssa Rivera’s future, but no way I’m getting out of a first inning without Carlee Wallace guaranteed an at-bat.

 

1gaino: Jason. I hear talk from many that they are concerned about our overall depth at running back. What's your gut, on a scale of 1-10, as to how we would rate that group, including incoming freshmen?

I think there is a ton of depth for Auburn at the running back position. You’re never going to have a lot of proven depth at running back, but with Kamryn Pettway, Kerryon Johnson, Malik Miller, Kamryn Martin, C.J. Tolbert, Devan Barrett and Alaric Williams all in the mix in the fall I think the depth is as good as it has been in a long time.

 

wareagledoc: What does a typical week look like for the QBs and WRs this time of year? What kind of coach-player interaction is allowed (e.g. film study, weight room or other workouts, throwing/running routes,etc)?

Once they get through final exams and take a short break they will be back on campus working out and throwing in the afternoons after taking classes earlier in the day. They usually throw at least twice a week and sometimes it’s more depending on how many of the guys can get together. The NCAA changed the rules a few years back so the coaches can get with the players during the summer and have some coaching input. They now have eight hours a week they can use for conditioning, etc. with two hours devoted to film study.

 

aunatchamps: Is the move of the AU Mizzou football game to Thursday night just chatter or is there any truth in it?

I have talked to several people in the Auburn athletic department and they haven’t heard anything about Missouri wanting to move the game to Thursday so right now I would say it’s more chatter at the moment.

 

aubtime: Our WR should be good to great this year. My 5 that I want us to get the ball to the most are Meyers, K Davis, Slayton, McCain and Stove. These stand out to me because they are big enough to block and can really go after the ball and fast. McCain ran a 4.37 I did not know he was that fast. Jason other than them 5 who do you think is going to open my eyes up at WR.

I won’t be surprised at all if Will Hastings leads this team in catches at the end of the season. He’s got a great rapport with Jarrett Stidham and has a great feel for running routes in the middle of the field, something he’ll have a chance to do more of in Chip Lindsey’s system. As for Marquis McClain, he’s a talented who that I really liked in high schoo,l but he was raw as a wide receiver when he arrived on campus last year.

 

DozerTiger: Jason what position groups are you most concerned about for the football team, and what needs to happen this summer for them to become a strength?

I don’t know if there is a concern for an entire group right now. I would probably put cornerback behind Carlton Davis and Javaris Davis at the moment even though I like Marlon Character. I am not sure what to expect out of the next few guys. The other one would probably be offensive line only because of the uncertainty there. I like the talent there. Coach Herb Hand just has to find the right combination early in camp and let those guys work together.

 

DozerTiger: Which football team do you think will be the strongest in the SEC East? And why?

Right now I would probably go with Georgia because of the offensive talent returning for the Bulldogs. I’m still not sold on them because of the lines of scrimmage, but I like the Bulldogs better than Florida and Tennessee at the moment. I am not sure I see anyone else climbing up unless Kentucky can make some noise. They definitely have a favorable schedule to make a run if they can find a quarterback.

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