Big Improvement for Big Shon, Coach Predicts

Shon Coleman is a second-year starter at left tackle for the Tigers on an Auburn offensive front that has promise, according to Gus Malzahn, who announced his offensive line starters and backups on Tuesday.

Auburn, Ala.--Gus Malzahn said he likes what he is seeing this preseason from his starting left tackle, Shon Coleman. Auburn’s head coach also noted the offensive line as a group is making progress.

Coleman, who received two medical hardship seasons while battling cancer, was a starter at left tackle last season. A junior in eligibility this year, Coleman is ready to step up his performance level, the coach predicts.

“He is much improved from what he was last year,” Malzahn says. “It (2014) was really his first year of playing football in four years.

“He is more confident,” Malzahn points out. “He is super strong. He is kind of Greg Robinson strong. It is really good. His pass protection has gotten better. I really like where he is at.”

Looking at the offensive line as a group, the head coach says, “I believe they are coming together very well. The good thing is that I believe we have more quality depth than we have had at any time I have been at Auburn. That is a good thing.

“We have got seven or eight guys we feel like we can plug in and they can execute our offense,” the coach says.

Avery Young, a redshirt junior, is a returning starter at right tackle while sophomore Braden Smith is expected to start at right guard in place of 2014 senior Chad Slade.

Braden Smith moved from tackle to guard this season.

Two of the preseason battles for starting spots have been going on with the offensive line group with junior Alex Kozan and senior Devonte Danzey competing at left guard and redshirt sophomore Austin Golson and senior Avery Dampeer battling to the be No. 1 center.

On Tuesday the head coach named Golson as the starter at center and listed Kozan or Danzey as the the starter at left guard, noting both could see action vs. Louisville.

Austin Golson is a transfer from Ole Miss.

Robert Leff, a redshirt junior, is the backup at left tackle and true freshman Mike Horton is Young's backup at right tackle.

Asked if he would like to redshirt Horton, Malzahn said, "Right now he's in the two-deep. He's really caught our eye. He's extremely athletic, he's extremely strong, he's going to be a very good player for us in the future we feel like. We're going to keep giving him reps in practice and we'll just see what happens as we get to game three or something like that."

Will Adams, a redshirt junior, is listed as the No. 2 right guard. His position coach, J.B. Grimes, said that Adams continues to improve and is a player who can also play tackle if needed.

“We are a run/play action team,” Malzahn says. “For us to be successful you have got to be able to run the football. I feel good about where our guys are now, but at the same time we have new guys up there at center and right guard. We have Kozan and Danzey at left guard. It takes a little while to gel and there is nothing better than playing. That is why I keep say we will have a chance to improve each week.”

Malzahn Tigers will open the season in the Chick-fil-A Classic vs. Louisville. Kickoff is set for shortly after 2:30 p.m. CDT from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

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