Sophomore Patrick Miller, who finished the 2012 season as a starting tackle, says the strength and conditioning training for the offensive line group has been changed to prepare the big guys to play an up-tempo style out of spread formations.
Miller points out the training has helped his flexibility. "I used to never be able to get down low, but now I can drop my butt," the six-foot-seven, 283-pound tackle says. "It's everybody on the offensive line. You can see these guys getting more athletic, more flexible and faster."
The tackle notes that making the adjustment physically to what head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee are demanding on pace is something he has been able to do without a major problem. Carrying out assignments properly while playing so quickly is more of a test. "Your body is used to it," he says. "It's your brain that has got to get fast.
"I think we are all doing pretty good with that," he says of the offensive line as a group. "It is still early so things will be a little rusty, but I?think by the end of spring ball we will have an awesome offensive line."
Miller contends that with the pace the Tigers are playing that once he and the other linemen adapt to their new system their assignments will be less complicated. "We are not checking out of plays and stuff like that," he points out. "There will be a name and a color, and then go. Last year it would be like check out of this, check out of that...we really didn't know what to do sometimes."
Patrick Miller is shown in game action as a freshman last September.
Another change for Miller this spring is adapting to his new position coach, J.B. Grimes, who has different points of emphasis and ways of doing things compared to Jeff Grimes, who coached the Auburn offensive line the previous four seasons.
"The terminology is different for everything," Miller says. "Even our steps are different."