Aubserver Mailbag 103: Better Call McCall
This week: A certain QB transfer, coordinators, JUCO recruits, go-to scorers, rotations, defensive rebounding, airports and rural restaurants
To borrow a phrase from the great Jim Ross, business is starting to pick up for the Auburn football program.
In the last few days, the Tigers have flipped three 2023 players — including two offensive linemen — from Power 5 schools. The transfer losses remain small, and they’ve even been able to add to the number of players who have decided to withdraw from the portal, with Zykeivous Walker joining the list this week.
Most of Auburn’s on-field staff is in place, with a pair of experienced Xs and Os-first coordinators now hired. And they’ve got another round of visitors coming this weekend, headlined by arguably the best available transfer at the most important position on the field.
Grayson McCall would be a game-changing transfer for anyone who landed him. His career quarterback rating and yards per attempt numbers are in the top five all-time in FBS football. He’s thrown almost 10 times as many touchdowns (78) as interceptions (8). He’s an extremely accurate, quick-trigger passer who has one of the best deep balls in the college ranks and is an effective running option, too.
McCall is reportedly making his official visit to Auburn this weekend, and there’s believed to be strong mutual interest here. He could follow his Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell to Hugh Freeze’s former employer, Liberty, and Florida is also a rumored contender for his services. But Freeze and new offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery have to like where they’re at right now in the race for an elite transfer quarterback who would fit their schemes quite well.
As you might expect, a couple of the top questions in this week’s mailbag are all about McCall. There’s also some talk about the new coordinators and recruiting before a nice list of basketball questions, as Bruce Pearl’s Tigers look to get things going in their upcoming West Coast trip to USC and Washington.
I’ll be there for both games, which prompted me to solicit questions about airports. We wrap up with those and some other fun random topics.
Thanks as always for supporting The Auburn Observer. It’s a super busy time of year for everyone, and we’re glad you’re spending some of it with us. Let’s go.
If Auburn ends up with McCall from the portal, do you think Montgomery and Freeze potentially implement some super fun Chadwell-esque option plays or him and Jarquez?
I wouldn’t expect Auburn to go full Coastal if it gets McCall — the Chanticleers run what’s basically a triple-option offense out of shotgun and pistol formations — but it’s worth noting that Montgomery and Freeze are both willing to run their quarterbacks.
After Davis Brin missed most of the last month of the season, freshman Braylon Braxton took over at quarterback for Tulsa under Montgomery after being a change-of-pace option earlier in the season. According to PFF, around two-thirds of Braxton’s 217 rushing yards were on designed runs. And, of course, everyone remembers Montgomery’s work with Robert Griffin III during his Heisman campaign at Baylor.
While Freeze didn’t have true dual-threats at Liberty this season, former Auburn quarterback Malik Willis ran for 1,220 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2021, with almost half of that yardage coming on designed runs. A year earlier, he hit the 1,000-yard mark with 14 touchdowns and had around the same split between scramble and designed yardage.
McCall hasn’t been as much of a designed runner in the last two seasons for Coastal as he was as a freshman, but he’s still had nine touchdowns on the ground in that span. If he wasn’t handing the ball off to a back, he was usually throwing it on those triple-looking RPOs that Chadwell loves to run.
If McCall came to Auburn, I would expect to see a lot more of that here. He’s a major weapon with the quick decisions on RPOs and can really make teams pay in play-action, where he averaged a stunning 11.4 yards per attempt with 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions this past season. That fits right in with what we’ve seen from both Montgomery and Freeze in the past.
Auburn will still hammer the ball at opponents on the ground with Jarquez Hunter and friends in this new era, and you would expect the Tigers’ QB1 in 2023 to be able to pull the ball and take off. McCall isn’t Willis or Robby Ashford when it comes to running the ball, but he’s got a great amount of experience at doing it.
Given their track records with a variety of quarterbacks, I believe Montgomery and Freeze will tailor the offense to the starter’s strengths. If that ends up being McCall, some Coastal influence would be expected.
How much do you think Grayson McCall is worth in NIL bucks given he played in a lesser conference?