Re: Beginner... Have some questions
Most likely the little knots are what we affectionately call wind knots. Even with no wind you can get them though wind is a good excuse for having them.
They are usually caused by poor application of power, mostly, too much power too early in the stroke. Slowly accelerate to a good stop. Accelerating too early causes the rod tip to dip and puts a nice, little half hitch in the leader.
Also, you might try using the least amount of power needed to get the job done.
The pile behind you most likely is cause by dropping the rod too low on the back cast. Other popular causes are not enough power, no firm stop or, as Rip Tide said, too much arc in your cast which causes the line to go on a big, wide loop instead of an efficient straight line path.