Senior Lineman Steps Up for the Tigers

Versatile Jonathan Palmer is settling in at right tackle and becoming a key player for the Auburn offense.

Auburn, Ala.--Able to stay at one position for the entire game in Auburn's victory at Ole Miss, senior right tackle Jonathan Palmer played his best college football game against the Rebels.

That is the opinion of his head coach, Tommy Tuberville, and the 6-5, 320-pound senior says he feels good about the way he played in Oxford.

"I think as far as a complete game, both pass blocking and run blocking, it was probably was one of my best games," Palmer says.

He practiced throughout the week to be ready to move in at center if needed with Joe Cope not yet back from his knee injury and Cope's backup, Jason Bosley, recovering from his own knee problem suffered in the victory over Tulane.

Jonathan Palmer (79) and Jason Bosley (68) look for Ole Miss players to block.

Bosley was able to go the distance in Oxford, which meant Palmer stayed at tackle where he graded 93 percent for position coach Hugh Nall.

"Coach Nall is a perfectionist so he is always going to have pointers for us, but I think he is getting more satisfied with how we are doing as an offensive line group," Palmer says. "We are starting to gel together."

Palmer and the rest of the offensive front struggled with pass protection the first half of the season. However, since the second half of the Florida game quarterback Brandon Cox has not been sacked. Against Ole Miss the Tiger quarterback had an exceptional amount of time to pick out receivers on many plays.

"We threw a few cut plays in to slow up the rush a little bit and that has helped," Palmer says. "I think we are doing a better job of that."

Looking at the overall offense, the senior says the Tigers are getting better. "We have made strides in the last couple of games," he says. "The first half of the season we weren't putting it all together. We are mixing it up well putting the run and pass together."

Palmer says the one area in which the Tigers need to improve the most is in the red zone. Last week against the Rebels the offense had six opportunities to score touchdowns, but those possessions ended in just two TDs with three field goals and an intercepted pass.

"We have just got to get better with our execution," Palmer says. "Against Ole Miss we shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. That is the main thing. We go over the red zone at least twice a week in practice so that is something that we work on."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges notes that the Tigers will put even more emphasis on the red zone this week as the Tigers prepare for game 10.

Palmer and the Tigers step out of SEC play this week with a home contest vs. Arkansas State, a team that plays in the Sun Belt Conference. The 8-1 Tigers and the 5-3 Indians will kick off at 1:30 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium.


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