April 5, 2014
Auburn offensive lineman Avery Young takes on defensive tackle Gabe Wright (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – Asked if he could foresee a situation in which junior Pat Miller and sophomore Shon Coleman were on the field together, offensive line coach J.B. Grimes was non-committal last Tuesday.
“You never know,” Grimes said. “You just have to wait and see.”
Coleman and Miller went into spring practice competing for the starting left tackle position vacated by All-American Greg Robinson. In Saturday’s scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Coleman was alone with the first team at left tackle. Miller had moved to right tackle and sophomore Avery Young had moved from right tackle to right guard. They made the moves for the first time in Thursday’s practice.
Young started the last 11 games of last season after Miller started the first three. He said Saturday he welcomed the move.
“I’m starting to like it,” Young said. “I don’t feel like it’s a bad move. I’m glad to be able to show I’m versatile. I’m willing to do anything to help the team out.”
After competing with his close friend Miller for playing time at right tackle, playing next to him was an added bonus for Young.
“It is what it is,” Young said. “That’s my boy. He’s a great tackle.”
Miller said he was not surprised by the move. He said it’s all about getting the right players in the right places.
“You have to be ready for anything,” Miller said. “We have six of the best offensive linemen in college football and you have five spots. I feel like we have a ton of depth. We’re running the offense we’ve had two years to learn. We have a killer offensive line and an awesome offense, but we still have to get better. We always have to get better.”
Avery faced the biggest change in the offensive line shuffle, moving from outside to inside. Instead of trying to corral mercurial defensive ends, he must deal with bull-rushing defensive tackles.
“I don’t have to worry about any Dee Fords or Carl Lawsons coming off the edge,” Young said. “It’s just power coming straight up at me. I just have to hold my ground.”
Young earned lasting respect when, without telling any coach, he played on after suffering a broken hand on the first play of the BCS Championship Game.
“They had a little corner blitz,” Young said Saturday. “When I hit him and went to the ground with him, it snapped. I didn’t realize it was that bad until I had to buckle my chinstrap. When I did that, my hand came way down to the side. I thought it was just slippery, so I wiped it off. That’s when I knew something was wrong, because when I pulled it, it came way down.
“I looked at Coach Grimes and said ‘Oh, man, I can’t let him see this.’ I had Chad (Slade) buckle up the chin strap for me. I got one of the trainers to tape it up and got back out there.”
The pain, Young said, was excruciating.
“On a scale of 1-10, it was about 100,” he said.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: