Auburn, Ala.--Back at the center position for the third straight game, junior Austin Golson’s move to the middle has been one of the keys to unlock the offense for the Auburn Tigers. Pounding ULM and Mississippi State before a bye week, Coach Gus Malzahn’s team continued their strong play on Saturday with a 56-3 walloping of Arkansas at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Rushing for 543 yards to set an SEC record for a regular season game between conference opponents, the Tigers dominated the line of scrimmage from the very first offensive play and never looked back. Golson said that was the goal when they stepped on the field and the plan came together.
“We went out there and did what we had to do,” Golson said. “That’s what we were planning to do all week. Probably not as much as we did, but we played physical and we played together. That’s what it’s all about as an offensive line is playing as one and not as individuals. We went out there with a mission, but we still have a lot of areas we can clean up. Moving forward we’re going to try to get those fixed because I still think the best is yet to come.”
Even though Arkansas was ranked ahead of Auburn, Golson said they felt like once they got off to a good start that it was all over but the shouting when they got into a groove.
“It was our game to lose,” Golson said. “I felt like if we didn’t make any mistakes and kept pounding the rock like we were doing that nobody could stop us, not only Arkansas but anybody really. I felt like we were on a roll.”
Held under 400 yards of total offense three of the first four games and only scoring more than 20 points against Arkansas State, Auburn’s offense got off to a very slow start. When starting center Xavier Dampeer was injured in the win over LSU that meant the move back to center for Golson.
Since that time the Tigers have taken off on offense, averaging over 50 points per game and 550 yards of offense in three wins. Golson says being back in the middle has been fun for him, but he feels for a guy like Dampeer who has waited his turn to be a starter only to suffer an injury.
“I’ve got more experience there, obviously,” Golson said. “I like being in charge. I get to direct everybody. I think we’re working well together the way we’ve got it now and hopefully we can keep doing that moving forward.
“X (Xavier Dampeer) has played some really good ball and he did nothing wrong,” he added. “Xavier did nothing to lose his spot, we’re just trying to do what’s best for Auburn. I have a lot of respect for that guy and he’s a really good football player.”
Ranked third in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 302.9 yards per game on the ground, Auburn will have another opportunity to get things going again this weekend when the Tigers travel to face Ole Miss in Oxford. Currently 113th in the nation in rushing defense, giving up 226.9 yards per game on 5.16 yards per carry, the Rebels have struggled to slow down anyone running the football this year.
That should be the recipe for success once again this weekend and Golson said it’s all about continuing to get better each and every day to become a complete offense.
“Like Coach says, we’re going up,” Golson said. “I truly believe that. I still think we have a lot of room to improve and we just have to keep improving each week.”