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A Critical Time to be Searching for Offensive Line Coach at Auburn – (Update: Grimes Returns)

By on January 17th, 2018 in Football, News 10 Comments »


Auburn assistant coach Herb Hand is leaving the Plains for the brown, brown grass of Texas. It was announced on Tuesday that the offensive line coach will join the Longhorns as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

While coaching turnover is part of the game, the timing of this move is not good for the Tigers with just three weeks till National Signing Day. Several prospects are expected to visit before NSD, and they would like to know who will be their coach.

Hand’s tenure on the Plains receives mixed reviews as his unit was among three finalists for the Joe Moore Award as the nation’s most outstanding offensive line. However, the flip side was the Tigers allowed 36 sacks on the season, which was the worst since Gus Malzahn became head coach and the most for the program since 2012 (37 sacks).

Question is who will Gus replace Hand with? It’s a critical hire to be sure, not only for recruits but for the future of the program.

Stay tuned.

Coach Gus Malzahn wasted little time filling Herb Hand’s shoes. He announced on twitter today the rehiring of former O-line coach J.B. Grimes. Auburn’s new/old coach held the position prior to Hand. He left Auburn to join Tommy Tuberville at Cincinnati and coached last season with Rhett Lashlee at UConn.

Grimes coached both former No. 2 overall NFL draft pick Greg Robinson and Rimington Award winner Reese Dismukes during his 2013–2015 stint on the Plains. 


  1. dyingculture dyingculture says:

    The initial announcement was on a reporter’s twitter feed, and there were a bunch of Penn State fans making comments about this too. Turns out that Penn State folks don’t think much of Hand either, that PSU was having the same offensive line problems that popped up at AU this year (constant tackles for loss, disappearing running game, etc.).

    Both Auburn and PSU fans seemed mystified that Hand always seems to “fail upward”, by this appointment to Texas co-OC. Doesn’t matter, because Hand is Texas’s problem now. It will be very interesting to see how Texas does with the sack rate and tackles for loss. Interesting indeed.

    It feels like Hand was encouraged to leave. What say you? Malzahn doesn’t seem to be protecting his buddies anymore, either.

    This only is a setback for recruiting this month, and if a replacement is announced soon then it might not even affect that. Overall, I think this is a big positive development.

  2. WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

    Agree it may not be the best time but after watching the Peach Bowl, I’m ready for a change at that position.

  3. AubieCE AubieCE says:

    Just saw JB Grimes is the new OL Coarch on twitter.

  4. BirminghamEagle says:

    Best thing about this is Auburn ranked 100th in sacks allowed under Hand and was in top 30-35 under Grimes. I’d say Malzahn addressed a big need.

  5. neonbets says:

    However, the flip side of that was the Tigers allowed 36 sacks on the season which was the worst since Gus Malzahn has been head coach and the most for the program since 2012 (37 sacks).

    At least go back and look at passing attempts before rendering judgement. In 2012, AU attempted 257 passing attempts. In 2017, the number was 382. The protection in 2012–if normalized for passing attempts would equal 56 sacks!

    Also, this past season also represented the most passing attempts in over a decade. Finally, Stidham contributed to about a dozen of those sacks.

    Hand was a great recruiter and the O-line is in better shape now than when he inherited the job. Of this, there is no doubt.

    • Jason Wright says:

      Are you for real?

      You gotta be kidding when you say: "The O-line is in better shape now than when he (Hand) inherited the job. Of this, there is no doubt."

      There is MORE than doubt, there is proof that Grimes left a great situation for the next guy. In addition to what PMT already said, Auburn's offensive line flourished under Grimes' tutelage, helping lead one of the SEC's top rushing attacks from 2013-15. Auburn was the first team in SEC history to lead the nation in rushing in 2013 and was in the top four of the conference in fewest sacks allowed during his three years coaching the offensive line.

      And according to everyone who's worked with him or played for him, he's tough and demanding, something that may have helped this year's group in the Peach Bowl.

      • neonbets says:

        Are you able to do Google Searches? I already made my point on sacks, so here’s some running stats for you:

        Running stats–2013-2015 under Grimes:
        2013–Rushing: Yards / Attempt 6.30
        Rushing: Attempts – Yards – TD 729 – 4596 – 48

        2014–Rushing: Yards / Attempt 5.47
        Rushing: Attempts – Yards – TD 607 – 3321 – 32

        2015–Rushing: Yards / Attempt 4.35
        Rushing: Attempts – Yards – TD 586 – 2552 – 28

        Jason–Are you able to discern trends, or do you need help with that too?

        OK, let’s go to 2016…Hand’s first year.

        Rushing: Yards / Attempt 5.47
        Rushing: Attempts – Yards – TD 645 – 3527 – 33

        What do you see? Looks like degrading metrics every year Grimes was at the helm. And then, coincidentally, it looks like an improvement after he left. But you’re clearly the O-line expert, so I’ll defer. I can only imagine how awesome these stats would be if Hand was ‘tough and demanding’ as Grimes?

        I’m not saying Hand’s departure and Grimes as replacement is some disaster. But a lot of the criticisms of Hand are simply unwarranted and unfair. As for the rosy retrospection regarding Grimes–this too is also –unfortunately–unwarranted.

        • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

          I appreciate your work in collecting the data. You know me. I usually follow the trends.

          HOWEVER: this line never passed the eye test, for me. I see what you are saying about drop backs versus sacks. I do think that many of them, specifically against Clemson, were due to factors outside the line’s control (to me, it was WRs more than the QB). But, they were pourus against GaSo, manhandled by Clemson, unable to tow the chalk in second half against LSU, and dominated for the last two games. Now, along the way, they handled UGA and Bama, some how (injuries for Bama).

          In the end, I could take sacks here and there. But it was the complete domination in games that left me mystified. And let’s not forget, this wasn’t an average line. This was an all upperclassmen line with at least TWO nfl players.

  6. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    I like the hire. Hand may be a good recruiter but Grimes is pretty good himself. He brought in most of the linemen on the present roster. And there's no question he can coach and develop players. Reese Dismukes won the Rimington Trophy in 2014. And he put Shon Coleman, Chad Slade and Avery Young in the NFL as well as helping develop Greg Robinson into the second-overall pick in the NFL Draft.

  7. sparkey sparkey says:

    This was not a good hire, but it is at least an improvement. The problem with J.B. Grimes is that he is a weak to average at best recruiter. Before you even think about saying Braden Smith to me, that kid contacted Auburn first and stayed on us. He knew he would do well out here and worked to get here with help from his head coach. Grimes is great at technique, but he is just awful by Auburn standards at recruiting. He will be a liability in two years. Mark my words, by year three he and the offensive line will be a problem.