The first thing Chip Lindsey will address when Auburn opens fall camp
Updated on Jul 16, 2018 at 08:13 PM CDT
When Auburn opens fall camp in a couple of weeks the first area offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey wants to address is on the line.
Auburn returns three players with starting experience in left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho Jr., left guard Marquel Harrell and right guard Mike Horton and adds a multi-year starter from UMass in grad transfer Jack Driscoll, but still has a center competition to be decided.
"Last year we had to move guys here and there for injuries or different reasons and we started playing really well when we had kind of the same nucleus every week," Lindsey said before a meeting of the Birmingham Auburn Club on Monday. "I think that's the No. 1 thing, establish who that's going to be."
When Auburn expects to know its starting offensive line for 2018
It's been quite some time since Auburn entered a season with such a wide open battle of inexperienced players at center, where Austin Golson and Reese Dismukes started nearly every game dating back to 2011 and Ryan Pugh started for years before that.
Either Kaleb Kim and Nick Brahms, neither of whom played on A-Day due to injuries, will win the starting job and be responsible for leading the offensive line against Washington's defense on Sept. 1.
Regardless of who wins the competition, Lindsey said the protection calls will be made by the center.
"It's exciting in some respect because we recruited these guys for a reason and now they're getting their opportunity," Lindsey said. "Both of them had some injuries in the spring, I think they'll both be fine and ready to go for camp.
"They're both very intelligent, they're both tough guys. Making calls is not going to be a problem for them. They're both sharp guys. Our center is required to do that. All the way down to our third center we feel like should be able to do that. ... It'll be more about the guys (for Washington) than how they're lining up. They're lining up in three down or four down every time."
Auburn center competition 'to be determined'
Though Auburn ended spring with an open battle at right tackle between Austin Troxell and Calvin Ashley, the addition of Driscoll changes the dynamic of that competition.
Driscoll is the presumptive favorite to start and is actually Auburn's most experienced offensive lineman, albeit from a lower level of competition, and has made a great first impression around the program.
Both Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Jarrett Stidham praised Driscoll's work ethic in summer workouts and Lindsey echoed that sentiment.
"What I've noticed first thing is the guy works extremely hard," Lindsey said. "He's up there all the time studying film. He's learned our offense very fast. Coach Russell spoke very high of him in the weight room and when you get praise from Ryan Russell you're doing pretty good because he's tough guy to get praise from sometimes. Excited about him, really anxious to see him on the field in pads. So far so good."
After resolving the questions up front Lindsey is eager to see who emerges among the bevy of running backs.
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Kam Martin is the favorite to win the starting job and Malik Miller has limited playing experience in blowouts, but JaTarvious Whitlow, Asa Martin, Shaun Shivers and Harold Joiner are all also going to get chances to show what they can offer before the season.
"We feel pretty good about knowing our wide outs, knowing about our quarterback, but we need to figure out which running backs are going to be ready to go," Lindsey said. "And the guys that we can trust in pass protection, that can protect the ball, not just running the ball when they have it in their hand, but can do all the other things that come with playing the position."