Nall: Young O-Line Responding Well

Offensive line coach Hugh Nall talks about the progress of his young front five.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's offense was searching for answers. It was searching for an identity or a spark from anywhere to get the season turned around before it was too late. The Tigers had just lost back-to-back home games to South Florida and Mississippi State, and already had one true freshman, Lee Ziemba, starting at right tackle.

If one wasn't scary enough, Hugh Nall decided the Sunday before the New Mexico State game to go with three true freshmen linemen with Ryan Pugh taking over at left tackle and Chaz Ramsey at right guard. So far the plan has worked in wins over New Mexico State and Florida, and Nall says he's sticking with the young guys in preparation for Vanderbilt on Saturday.

"It's fun to coach those guys," Nall says of the new faces. "I think it's fun for the other guys to be around. They've brought an energy level that is a little bit different and I've really enjoyed coaching those guys. They've picked up everything.

"They're really neat kids," he continues. "They really are. They're neat to be around, they're smart kids and what I like is they take coaching so well. I can get on them and it doesn't rattle them because they want to do well. They're just as disappointed as I am when things don't go well."

So far there hasn't been a whole lot to be disappointed about since the change was made. Sure, there are going to be mistakes, but Nall says it's been less than anticipated. And not only that, something changed Brandon Cox along the way and the senior QB is back to the Cox of old.

"I think that Brandon in the last two games has carried a lot of confidence," Nall notes. "I think that they let him know that we believe in him and we wouldn't have him up there if we didn't believe in him."

Pugh was fired up after the 20-17 victory at Florida Field.

Ziemba had started since the season opener against Kansas State, along with left guard Tyronne Green and center Jason Bosley. Heading into the Florida game on Saturday, the starting five had one career road start altogether and that was by Bosley at Ole Miss last season.

"Three of them are freshmen so I thought they responded pretty good," Nall explains. "Even when we had some things go bad and I got on to them at times, they responded well and didn't go into a shell. That's one thing you worry about with a young kid like that, but they went in there with the attitude that we were going to win the game. And they kept that attitude. We did some good things. We're not perfect by any means.

"We had a few miscommunications and a few things to be expected. We had two jumping off sides and one guy went the wrong way one time and didn't hear the check. To be honest with you I was impressed that we didn't have more than that.

"I thought the guys played hard," Nall adds. "They recovered after mistakes and, needless to say, we've got to get a lot better in a hurry. I thought the execution at times was real good and it was not good enough at others. We're looking for more consistency, but once again they played hard and certainly didn't back down. They kept getting after it."

Previous starters King Dunlap and Mike Berry are back at practice and will have a chance for playing time against the Commodores according to Nall, but he adds, "I'm going to stay with the starting five I've got, and I'm going to go with that then adjust as the game allows."

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