Three New Starters On Auburn Offensive Line

Coach Gene Chizik said after Sunday night's practice that two freshmen will start at offensive tackle and Tunde Fariyike is the No. 1 center.

Auburn, Ala.--Redshirt sophomore Tunde Fariyike will start at center vs. Clemson in place of suspended sophomore Reese Dismukes, Coach Gene Chizik said following Sunday night's Auburn football practice.

Dismukes, a Freshman All-SEC center in 2011, will definitely miss Saturday night's game vs. Clemson after being arrested on a public intoxication charge over the weekend, Chizik noted. Dismukes started every game last year for the Tigers and won praise from Chizik for his play in preseason drills this month prior to being suspended on Saturday.

Fariyike played in all 13 games last year on special teams, but only saw limited action at center in one contest vs. Ole Miss. However, Fariyike said he is confident he can handle the assignment after finding out at practice on Sunday evening he would be working with the ones.

Senior John Sullen, who will start at left guard, goes into the game as the top backup at center with freshman Alex Kozan available if needed.

The Tigers are flanking Fariyike with returning starters, making the decision to go with Chad Slade at right guard instead of right tackle, where true freshman Avery Young will start. Slade started at both right guard and right tackle last season.

Redshirt freshman Greg Robinson will start at left tackle and true freshman Patrick Miller is the top backup at both tackle spots. Shon Coleman will be the second team left tackle on the depth chart, Chizik said. Coleman missed the past two seasons while recovering from cancer.

"We have a lot of confidence in him," Chizik said of Fariyike. "Everybody has got to step up their level of play everywhere, obviously. I think Tunde is excited about the opportunity that presented itself.

"He is going to study the game and he has got a really great week to prepare," the coach added. "We have a lot of faith in him."

Fariyike, who is 6-2, 301 pounds from Thomaston, Ga., said, "It really hit me today. Man, this is it. This is my opportunity to really show what I can do. Everybody is looking at me. I have got to show up."

An honor student who quarterback Kiehl Frazier calls a "perfectionist," Fariyike said he is getting plenty of support from his teammates prior to his first start. He noted that he practices every week with the attitude he is one play away from being in the game so he said he is "most definitely" prepared to be the starter vs. Clemson.

Sullen, the only senior on the offensive line, said after practice that he expects Fariyike to do well in his first college start. "He is a very smart player," the senior said.

Chizik said putting Sullen and Slade on both sides of Fariyike should help the new starter. "That was kind of our line of thinking," the coach said. "Chad has played a lot of football even though he is still young. John is a senior and has played a lot of football.

"In terms of communication that has to go on up and down the line, those two guys are good communicators, not only just for center but the tackles as well," Chizik pointed out. "We are starting two freshmen tackles who have never played in a college football game. Those two guys (Sullen and Slade) are the solid foundation of our offensive line."

Fariyike noted he is ready for the responsibility of being the No. 1 center. "It's comfortable," he said.

Tunde Fariyike (left) is shown in practice.

Frazier predicted that Fariyike will do a solid job on Saturday night. "Whenever someone goes down or goes out the next guy has to step up," the quarterback said. "I think Tunde will do a good job.

"I worked with Tunde a ton last year so I'm pretty comfortable whenever he's in there," Frazier added. "We didn't go under center of course last year so that's something I've got to get a little bit more acclimated to, but I'm pretty comfortable when Tunde is in there."

Commenting on the center, Frazier said, "He's a perfectionist with every call he wants to make and every step he wants to get right. Every time he makes a mistake he kills himself and he tries to get better. Tunde is a perfectionist."

Frazier noted that having Sullen and Slade lined up to the freshmen starting tackles will be important "because they know how the game is going to be and what Saturday is going to be like."

"Greg and Avery, this will be a new thing for them," Frazier said. "It's comforting to have John and Chad in there."

Greg Robinson is a redshirt freshman left tackle.

Chizik said the Tigers had good energy at Sunday night's practice after being off the previous day. "I thought tonight was a really, really good practice."

The coach said to get game-like tempo much of the practice featured ones vs. ones or ones vs. two. "We didn't do a whole of scout work tonight trying to get the speed of the game," he said. "We tried to play a good bit against each other."

The Tigers will be off on Monday and return to practice on Tuesday. Kickoff for Saturday's Clemson game is 6 p.m. CDT at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The game will be televised by ESPN.


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