Yes sir, if the roots are struggling and unhappy, you’ll see it in the foliage, especially during flowering…you’ll see about everything in the foliage, honestly. For instance, if they’re cupping/canoeing, and reaching up, they’re thirsty, and trying to “catch” more water, or it might be a little dry or hot in your grow space. Any deficiencies will first show up in the appearance of the leaves. If they’re over watered and having difficulty transpiring all that moisture, you’ll see the leaves drooping/hanging down. The leaves are their warning lights.
Although it’s maybe not ideal for full time use, I’d hang onto that watering setup, in case you need to go out of town or something like that. Something to keep them from drying out while you’re away is a good idea to have around.
I would run the lighting full spectrum (both switches on) all the time, to give the plant(s) as much light as possible. 16/8, 18/6, 24/7 are all acceptable for vegetative growth on photos, and for the full life of autos. I’ve seen some who have had to increase the hours of darkness to get autos to finish up. Some strains seem to do better on one particular schedule than another, from what I’ve read from some sources, while others say run autos under as much light as possible to maximize the yield. I think a lot of it has to do with the specifics of each person’s grow, more than anything else, though. All that said, I’ve never personally grown an auto (just feminized photos and bag seeds, and clones from them), but I’ve followed several auto grows.
If you’re just starting to see red pistils and the majority of them are still white and standing more or less straight out, you’ve still got several weeks. Wait until you see 2/3 or more (~ or so) of the pistils turn red, then start checking the trichomes with some type of magnification, at least 30x is best. I got a pocket microscope with 60-120x for dirt cheap on Amazon that works great as long as you don’t want pictures lol! Once you have the trichome color you want, or nearing it, you can start flushing if you intend to.
I think you’ll do alright even with the banged up leaves. Just do your best to get her as far as you can as best you can. Everyone’s first grow is a crash course. Best way to learn in my opinion! You figure out as you go, and learn from each. Each grow gets better than the last. The people on here will keep you steered in the right direction!