Auburn football: Offensive line on long road to improvement under J.B. Grimes
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Any tips on watching offensive line tape this offseason? — Andrew
Any tips on watching Offensive line tape this offseason? I'm having trouble figuring out what all we can improve on because performances were so inconsistent all year.
— Andrew Stanley (@Standrew5998) June 12, 2018
It seems that Auburn football is set at several positions for the 2018 season.
The Tigers know who their quarterback will be. They have some idea about who will lead their defense behind a dominant line. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey probably even have a pretty good read on which running backs they’ll feature.
And then there’s the offensive line. When it comes to that position group, there’s quite a bit of work to be done.
Now, this might seem like a cop-out of an answer, but if you’re looking to study offensive line tape from last season to see where Auburn can improve, my advice is this: Skip that task.
Auburn’s offensive line probably is going to be nothing like its line last season — and that’s going to be a struggle in camp and/or the early part of the season. Losing Austin Golson and Braden Smith is going to hurt, regardless of how much talent is in the meeting room.
Upon the arrival (or re-arrival?) of offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, it became clear how many small things plagued the offensive line last season under Herb Hand. Grimes has emphasized the importance of fundamentals and details, something that might be hard to see while studying film from last season. Communication, hand placement and a few more things may be tough to see.
Likewise, if fans see significant improvement from the offensive front early this season, it likely will be because of growth in those areas.
The last and perhaps most important area where Auburn’s line needs to improve is its toughness, or as players refer to it, “nastiness.”
Last season players such as Calvin Ashley and Prince Tega Wanogho got a decent taste of what they were in for as linemen in the Southeastern Conference. Now it’s their time to step into full-time roles.
In basketball, it’s really tough to teach touch. It’s why some NBA players struggle with free throws and why some athletically challenged kids on playgrounds across America make shots they shouldn’t. Touch, for an offensive lineman, is toughness.
When players reach the college level, yelling provides only so much motivation. That doesn’t mean Grimes and Malzahn won’t yell. They most certainly will. At the end of the day, however, it’s going to be the players’ responsibility to raise their level of play.
Their decisions will make or break Auburn’s success this season and it’s something you won’t be able to measure by watching film this summer.