Friendly Competition for Tiger Linemen

Ben Grubbs doesn't get a lot of publicity from his offensive guard position, but he is one of the best players on the team and a senior leader.

Auburn, Ala.--With Ben Grubbs and Tim Duckworth returning for their senior seasons and junior Leon Hart as a capable backup, there aren't many questions or concerns at the guard positions heading into the 2006 Auburn football season.

One unanswered question is, who will have the most pancakes?

"Me and Duck have been pretty close the last two years," Grubbs says. "I had it my first year (at guard in 2004) and he had it last year. So we've got a little something going on this year. We haven't really figured it out yet, but I think we're going to have a little pot that we contribute to every week.

"Last year he'd be like, ‘Ben, I got one! I got one!'" Grubbs adds with a smile. "And then when I get one I'm like, ‘Duck, I'm right there with you.' It's going to be fun."

All-SEC runner Kenny Irons returns, as does Brad Lester, Carl Stewart and Tre Smith. And with a lack of experience at receiver the running game will be heavily relied on at the beginning of the season.

"When you pound the ball you get the defense worn out," Grubbs says. "I love to look across the line and see the defense breathing with their hands on their sides, just taking the life out of them. That's when we throw it in the air and get a quick seven points. That's what Auburn's has been about for the past couple of years and pretty much how it's going to be. It's fun. That's where you get your pancakes from mostly."

Grubbs works on his technique with a 38-pound bag.

Offensive line coach Hugh Nall has said leading up the season opener against Washington State that he is concerned with the lack of experience from his front five, more so in terms of them playing together than individual experience. The starting five of King Dunlap, Grubbs, Joe Cope, Duckworth and Jonathan Palmer are all in their fourth or fifth year in the program.

"With the O-line it takes more than the D-line or the defense to gel," Grubbs notes. "With us, I have to know King's techniques as well as Joe Cope. It works like that on the O-line. I think we're getting there. Two weeks from now we'll be a lot better than this week. It gets better with time and I don't have any doubt we'll be a close-knit O-line."

Grubbs has been getting a small amount of reps in practice at left tackle. Backup left guard Tyronne Green is unlikely to play in the opener because of dehydration and a stomach bug, which means Grubbs will be playing guard only while Hart would be the first backup at every position except center. Jason Bosley is the second option at center behind Cope.

After playing defense and tight end early in his career, Grubbs settled in as a starting guard in his redshirt sophomore season and has continued to get better since. He is on many preseason All-SEC teams and says he wants to play every down as a senior as if it was his last.

"I don't want to have any regrets because this is my last year," he says. "I want to give it all I've got and just go every play hard. I don't want take any plays off. That's pretty much my goal and I think if I do that everything will take care of itself."

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