Crunch Time For AU's Young Offensive Linemen

Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes talks about his group's preparations for the season football opener coming up on Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Grimes said preparing three players to make their first college starts against Clemson on Saturday night mirrors what he did getting true freshman center Reese Dismukes ready to start last season.

Auburn's offensive line coach noted that Dismukes took his lumps in 2011 while learning to compete at the college level and predicts the same will be true for freshman tackles Avery Young and Greg Robinson along with sophomore center Tunde Fariyike, who is also making his first college start.

"I think he (Dismukes) benefitted from that and these young guys will do the same thing," Auburn;s offensive line coach added. "It'll be hard on them, but they're learning everything. Not just learning our system in football, but they're learning how to practice hard every day at a college level, they're learning how hard it is to beat a defensive lineman that's as good as these guys are."

Grimes noted Saturday's atmosphere in the Georgia Dome vs. Clemson will be a big awakening for the young players on the line, but he said the coaching staff has been preparing them for that.

"We've really tried to put a lot of pressure on them this camp, knowing that we're going to have a lot of guys that haven't played and will be playing," Grimes said. "We've tried to make practice as hard as we can. I've been on their tails consistently, we all have, and tried to put them in pressure-packed environments. Nothing simulates a game, but we try to get it close to that."

With Dismukes suspended indefinitely the pressure is on Fariyike to produce. Grimes said the redshirt sophomore has had a "really good week" and he is "very pleased with his work."

Avery Young is shown at practice.

Another player who has impressed Grimes is starting right tackle Young, who the coach said has "all the tools in the world," but simply needs to make a smooth transition to the collegiate level.

"On top of that, I would say that early on in camp I'm not sure if he was sure that he was really ready," Grimes said about the freshman from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla, High. "As he started to have a little bit more success and as we pushed him, I think he got to the point he realized, ‘You know what, maybe I can do this.' When he realized that maybe he could then he wanted to even more."

Calling Young's successful journey to the starting lineup cyclical, Grimes noted unless a freshman is highly competitive there is no chance of him playing successfully. He also said it is important for the younger players to never get their head down when mistakes are made.

"Playing offensive line, especially tackle, is a lot like playing cornerback," Grimes explained. "Everybody talks about cornerbacks having short memories. You get beat on a fade for a touchdown, you've got to forget that, come back and play coverage the next play.

"Playing offensive tackle is the same way," Grimes added. "If you get beat around the edge and the quarterback gets hit, you have a tendency to focus on that so much that one play can create another bad play, and a bad series, then a bad game. With these young guys it's just a matter of helping them get past that."


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