(photo:Julie Bennett, al.com)
A football team is only as good as it’s offensive line. The big uglies don’t get as much attention as the skill players, but every play begins with them. At Auburn the O-Line was the reason the Tigers were good enough to win the SEC Championship and play for a national championship in 2013.
It’s been proven that the more a line gains experience and works together – the more likely a team’s success will be. Last year, only eight teams began the season with O-Lines that had more than 100 career starts. With five starters returning, Auburn will surpass that figure in 2014. Those five players have a combined 113 starts.
They are a big part of the reason Auburn was the number one rushing team in the nation last year and was 12th in scoring offense. Auburn set a new SEC Championship Game offensive record when the Tigers blistered Mizzou (and the SEC’s No.2 rushing defense) gashing the Black and Gold Tigers for big gains almost at will, finishing the night at 677 total yards with 545 coming on the ground.
Despite losing Greg Robinson to the NFL draft, the 2014 Tiger Line may have a chance to be as good or better than that unit. Robinson was definitely one of the best left tackles to ever play at Auburn and the First Round Draft pick leaves big shoes to fill.
Nevertheless there are several that could take his place. Most likely the spot will be filled by either Patrick Miller who has 14 career starts or cancer survivor Shon Coleman.
Returning sophomore and Freshman All-American Alex Kozan who also has 14 starts will hold down the left guard position.
On the right side Chad Slade who has started 36 games as a Tiger will return at guard. Avery Young (12 starts) appears to be entrenched at right tackle after taking over the position after game five last year. However, Young has the versatility to play right guard which gives the Tigers increased depth on that side of the ball.
Then there is the leader of the line, senior All-American Center Reese Dismukes. If everything about the offensive attack begins with the line, the anchor and genesis of that attack begins with the center.
And the Tigers could not have a better one than the All-American Dismukes who has 37 career starts and once again is on the Rimington Trophy Watch List. You can bet Dismukes will make sure this unit keeps it together in the Tigers’ quest to make it back to the big game.
In addition to these five veterans, the Tigers will have nine very talented back-ups. In fact, Offensive Line Coach, J.B. Grimes said yesterday that the Tigers have, “A number of guys that have the ability to start and …
That’s a good problem to have.”
Tags: 2014 Auburn preview, 2014 SEC preview, Alex kozan, AubTigerman, Auburn blogs, Auburn Football, Auburn offensive line, auburn Tigers, Auburn Tigers Football, avery young, chad slade, Patrick Miller, Reese Dismukes, SEC blog, SEC Champions, Shon Coleman, Track 'em Tigers