Aug 23, 2013
Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes oversees a blocking drill (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – The mission started eight months ago, when J.B. Grimes joined first-year head coach Gus Malzahn’s staff. If Auburn was going to score points and win games, Grimes had to put together an offensive line to lead the way.
There were old habits to break, techniques to be taught, mindsets to change. And Grimes went about doing it from the day he arrived. In eight days, he’ll walk the sideline in his first Auburn football game when the Tigers play Washington State at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Tigers practiced in shells on Thursday. They were to have a dress rehearsal practice at Jordan-Hare this morning. Sunday, it will be game week.
“I think we’ve had a good camp,” Grimes said Thursday. “I’ve been pleased with the way we’ve executed. Obviously, we have to get better. If we can stay healthy, we’ll continue to see improvement every week.
“There’s some talent there and there’s good people there. With the combination of talent and character, I believe we have a chance to put together a pretty good unit.”
Junior center Reese Dismukes, unquestionably the leader of the pack, says he and his teammates are eager to show that they are much better than last season’s 3-9 record showed.
“I think we have a chance to be really good,” Dismukes said. “Coach Grimes has done a great job with us. We’re going to go out there every week and battle our butts off. That’s the goal, to be the five nastiest (guys) in the SEC.
“Especially after what happened last year, everyone is determined and has kind of a chip on their shoulder. Everybody is ready to get out there and prove what we can really do.”
Four positions have essentially been settled. Sophomore Greg Robinson will start at left tackle, redshirt freshman Alex Kozan at left guard, Dismukes at center and junior Chad Slade at right guard. Sophomores Pat Miller and Avery Young have competed throughout preseason camp at right tackle.
Grimes wants at least eight who are ready to play and win. Who will be the backups?
“Right now, the guys you would really count on would be Shon Coleman, Tunde Fariyike and Avery Young,” Grimes said. “Avery still has to get used to the speed of the game. He hasn’t seen it in a year, and he needs the reps to get him used to that speed. The God-given talent is there. I feel like as the season goes on he’ll continue to get better and better every day.”
Coleman, a redshirt freshman, is behind Robinson at left tackle. Fariyike, a junior, could play center or guard, Grimes said. Young has also had limited work at guard. Redshirt freshman Jordan Diamond and junior college transfer Devonte Danzey could get into playing picture at guard as the season goes on.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: