Quarterback Jason Caldwell’s Monday morning column

Where is the defense?

Auburn has allowed 13 rushing touchdowns in its last three football games. It’s one of the worst stretches of Auburn defense in my life. When compared to one of Auburn’s biggest rivals and the current national defense gold standard, you realize just how far the Tigers have to go.

Georgia has recruited and developed the defense better than anyone in the country over the past few years, and it shows on the field. To find the 14th rushing touchdown allowed for the Bulldogs, you have to go back to the last game of the 2019 season. That’s a 33-game span in which Georgia allowed the same amount of rushing touchdowns as Auburn over the past three games.

For the season, Auburn has given up 23 rushing touchdowns in eight games. The last four seasons have yielded just 15 total rushing touchdowns allowed for Georgia. Just a surprising difference between the two programs and how things have changed in the last 10-15 years.

Around the league

This week is Showdown Saturday in the Southeastern Conference, with Tennessee traveling to Georgia and Alabama traveling to LSU. I’m really interested to see how Georgia handles the Tennessee offense, but just as important is how Tennessee handles the crowd in Athens. The Vols went to Pittsburgh earlier in the year and dominated LSU in the morning kickoff, but had Florida, Alabama and Kentucky at home. This will be by far the biggest test for the Tennessee offense. It will be fun to watch.

As for Alabama-LSU, I honestly don’t know what to expect from this game because LSU is such a mystery. I’ve seen them with my own eyes and I don’t believe the roster is very good, but they’ve put on some impressive performances since then. Ultimately, I think this Alabama defense will get the job done and they will be able to score against the Tigers.

Irish eyes smile

Auburn baseball prospect Ike Irish was advertised for Tigers Coach Butch Thompson this fall. Ranked 39th overall in his class and the No. 3 catcher, Irish has already shown the ability to compete at the plate despite being just a few months into his freshman year on the Plains.

Irish showed impressive power from the left side of the plate with a comebacker in the first exhibition game of the fall against Louisiana Tech, followed by a laser shot over the center field wall against Alabama on Friday night. Irish will be a player who could hit the middle of Auburn’s lineup when the season opens in the spring.

Another one is the transfer of Justin Kirby from Kent State. Homering six times in scrimmages this fall, Kirby walked against Alabama and the ball cleared the back wall of the visiting bullpen in right field. He has tremendous power and a fast bat.

It’s hoops time

On Wednesday, the Auburn basketball Tigers open the season with an exhibition against UAH at Auburn Arena. This will be an interesting team to watch this season with depth and plenty of talent for Bruce Pearl to work with on a revamped roster.

For most of his time at Auburn, Pearl’s teams were dominated by guard play. That wasn’t the case last season with Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler, and I think it will be the same this season with Johni Broome, Jaylin Williams and Yohan Traore along with Dylan Cardwell scoring. Auburn has some serious size that will be tough for most teams to match up against. If the guards can play clean basketball and knock down shots when they get the chance, this Auburn team will be tough to beat again.


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