Tigers Trying to Get Young O Line Ready

Comments from Auburn coaches and players are featured in this football report as the Tigers continued their preparations to play Clemson.

Auburn, Ala.--The Tigers returned to the practice field on Tuesday evening to resume their preparations for Saturday night's football season opener vs. Clemson. One of the prime focuses is getting Auburn's rebuilt offensive front ready to handle the challenge against a nationally-ranked opponent.

Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has the challenge of making his Auburn debut with a rebuilt line that goes into the contest with just 21 combined starts. "They are very talented and very young," the coach said.

"It will be great to go out and watch them and see where we are at," Loeffler added. "With young players we are going to do a lot of good things and there are going to be some things that I am sure we are going to watch on Sunday and need to correct."

Commenting on the offensive line starting group that features one senior, two redshirt sophomores, one redshirt freshman and one freshman, he said, "They are up for the challenge. They are excited, they are talented. It all starts with them. How our OL line goes we are going to go."

One of three offensive linemen making his first college start for Auburn is redshirt freshman left tackle Greg Robinson, who said he is pumped up about the opportunity. He and the other rookies will need to play well if the Tigers are going to extend their winning streak in opening games to seven straight.

"I'm really excited," the six-foot-six, 311-pounder from Thiboduax, La., said. "My mom, my brothers, sisters and uncles are all coming to see me perform. I have been getting a lot of phone calls to encourage me telling me to keep my head up and do well."

Robinson went on all of the road trips last year and was ready to play if needed. This season the Tigers don't have the luxury of a year of apprenticeship for their other starting tackle, Avery Young, who beat out another true freshman, Patrick Miller, for a spot atop the depth chart.

"I don't know how he's feeling about it, but he's been practicing real confidently and Coach (offensive line coach Jeff Grimes) said he's ready," Robinson said of Young, who is 6-6, 295 pounds out of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., High where he was a Scout.com five-star prospect. "I believe in him and think he's going to do well," Robinson predicted.

"The coaches were impressed by him because he's a real hard worker and goes 100 percent every play, giving his all," Robinson added about Young. "He's going to be a great player."

At center, with returning starter Reese Dismukes suspended, redshirt sophomore Tunde Fariyike is making his first start. Robinson said that he is rooting for the little-used Fariyike to play well on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome.

"He is excited and we're just trying to keep his energy going," Robinson said. "Tunde is real smart, he's humble and he knows all of his calls. He is just that guy who has been sitting back and waiting on his time. It's time for him to step up."

Greg Robinson has been running No. 1 on the depth chart going back to spring training.

Robinson said it is good to have senior John Sullen at left guard so he and Fariyike can get immediate on-the-field help if they have a question. "John is like the old guy so he's keeping everybody up," Robinson said. "If we mess up he keeps us straight and corrects us."

Auburn goes into the opener ranked 25th in the coaches poll and is not ranked in the AP Top 25. Clemson is 14th in both polls.

"We have been watching them and have seen a few blitzes and they've got a fast defensive end, but I feel like they're more of a read team," Robinson said of Auburn's opening night opponent. "We have just got to prepare and stay on the same page and get all the calls right."

*In other news and notes:

*Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said that Chris Davis will move from cornerback to nickel when the Tigers go with five defensive backs on Saturday. He said either T'Sharvan Bell or Jonathan Mincy will come into the game and play cornerback.

The coach had high praise for Bell, who VanGorder noted has made an impressive recovery from major knee surgery in November.

*VanGorder said that camp injures to safety Erique Florence, one of the favorites to win a starting job, put the sophomore behind in the competition for being No. 1 on the depth chart. He did note that Florence has a chance to move up the depth chart as the season progresses.

The coach said the same thing is the case with cornerback Robenson Therezie, who also was contending for a starting spot before missing practice time with an injury.

*The Tigers worked out for two hours in full pads on Tuesday evening after taking Monday off. The focus was polishing the game plans on offense and defense.

*Quarterback Clint Moseley's shoulder is doing better now that the "camp" portion of practice is done and he is only throwing a lot of balls in practice twice a week, Loeffler said.

*Loeffler said that keys for Kiehl Frazier to be successful in his first start the QB needs to make sure he has good ball security and manages the huddle as the leader off the offense.

*The Auburn Network radio broadcast features the veteran crew of Rod Bramblett doing play-by-play, Stan White handling the color, Quentin Riggins as the sideline reporter and Paul Ellen as the studio host. Their coverage will begin at 4 p.m. CDT for the game that will start shortly after 6 p.m.

*The game will also be carried on radio by Dial Global Sports with John Tautges doing play by play and Terry Donahue the analyst.

*Television coverage of the opener will begin at 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN. Brad Nessler will do the play-by-play, Todd Blackledge will be the analyst and Holly Rowe is the sideline reporter.

*Auburn has a 5-3 record in games played at the Georgia Dome. This is just the third time Auburn has opened its season in Atlanta. The first was in an 1892 victory over Georgia, the first game in Auburn history, and the second was 10 years later in a victory over Georgia Tech.

*Despite losing 38-24 last year at Clemson to end a 17-game winning streak dating back to Auburn's Outback Bowl victory over Northwestern to close the 2009 season, Auburn still leads its all-time series vs. the ACC team 34-12-2.

Ricardo Louis

*Loeffler had praise after Tuesday's practice for freshman wide receiver Ricardo Louis, noting that "absolutely" the newcomer could contribute on Saturday night even though he is listed No. 3 on the depth chart behind Emory Blake and Sammie Coates.

VanGorder said that it is too early to know if true freshman middle linebacker Cassanova McKinzy will be redshirted. He is No. 3 on the depth chart behind Jake Holland and Ashton Richardson, a former walk-on who was hurt part of last season. VanGorder said that Richardson's quickness and knowledge of the game put him in the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

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