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No doubt about it: Auburn offensive line ready to play
Auburn's offensive line ready to go with Robert Leff, left, Alex Kozan and Austin Golson
Aug. 23, 2016

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- Offensive lineman Alex Kozan doesn't have a vote on who'll be Auburn's starting quarterback. Doesn't matter, anyway.

His job is to block for running backs and protect the quarterback, whether that's John Franklin III, Jeremy Johnson or Sean White. One will get the starting call against Clemson on Sept. 3, the others may play and Kozan says his offensive line mates are ready to help the offense succeed. 

"Our plays are our plays. If my goal is block the A gap and down block on a nose guard, that's what I'm going to do," Kozan said.

"On every play, all 11 have to execute, all 11 have to do their individual job. All of us are focused on doing what we can. Once Coach Malzahn decides who that guys is, we'll plug him in and get that cohesiveness on offense."

The quarterback race continues, but the offensive line seems set. Kozan is ticketed to play left guard, Braden Smith is at right guard, Xavier Dampeer is at center, Austin Golson is at left tackle and Robert Leff is at right tackle.

Leff said the offensive line is ready to go with new line coach Herb Hand.

"I particularly like Coach Hand because he brings a ton of energy every day," Leff said. "It's not always positive-like energy you want sometimes when he is chewing you out, but it's always energy that's going to get you better and you know he's coaching everybody hard whether it's one of the young guys or the front five."

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said last week theTigers have taken a look at other offensive linemen in case they have to plug and play. 

"At this time of year, you're always doing contingency plans," Lashlee said. "If 'this guy' goes down, what's the next move? If 'this guy' goes down, what's the next move? You've got certain guys who have to know more than one position."

But Lashlee said the starting five seems set.

"I think Alex Kozan, being a veteran, is extremely steady. And Braden is steady. Those guys in those first five -- Leff and 'X' and Austin -- are older guys, and that's what we need," Lashlee said.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter



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