Pugh Ready At Center If Needed

True freshmen Ryan Pugh talks about the injury to Jason Bosley and about possibly playing center this week against Arkansas.

Auburn, Ala.--Three weeks ago true freshman Ryan Pugh made his debut against New Mexico State in Jordan-Hare Stadium at left tackle after practicing the entire preseason at center.

This week he could make his first start at center on the road against the Arkansas Razorbacks because of an injury to first-teamer Jason Bosley.

While Bosley did some work at Tuesday's practice on the side, it is still very much up in the air if he'll be ready to play against the Hogs this weekend. Without him the burden at center will fall on Pugh's shoulders, something that came suddenly last week against Vanderbilt.

"It was real unfortunate that Bos had to go down like that," Pugh says. "I don't think the injury is quite as serious as we thought it was during the game. It was definitely shocking for me to get back in there that quick. I knew we might make the move later in the game if we got up, but to see him go down was unfortunate."

Pugh celebrates the win over Florida in The Swamp.

Suffering a knee sprain late in the first half, Bosley is now on the mend and it remains to be seen if he can get enough strength in the knee to be ready to play again this week. Pugh says while he feels ready to play center, he would like to see Bosley get back because of his leadership up front and because of the chemistry they had built as a group.

"We're all hoping he can get back as quickly as possible because he's such a leader in the huddle and on the field," Pugh says. "It wasn't lifeless, but it's definitely different with him not out there.

"We can blame it on whatever we want to whether it was losing players or being up 28-0 at halftime. You can blame it on a lot of things, but if we really want to be good we've got to be able to finish in the second half like we played in the first half."

Seeing his first action with the first team offense at center, Pugh says he did okay, but not as well as he would have liked. Making the calls and adjustments at the line of scrimmage is something he says he's worked on, but still must improve before this week's game.

"I did all right," Pugh says. "Making the right calls is the big thing and just playing hard. It's no different than playing left tackle. You just have to tell everyone else what to do."

Stuck in limbo for the time being, Pugh is working at both center and left tackle this week just in case he's needed at either of the spots. While that would be a difficult task for any player and especially a true freshman, he says it doesn't concern him too much.

"I think we've got a good game plan," Pugh says. "The center and left tackle deal is not too big. I think having played a game already going from one to the other it's not something that we can't do. Mentally it takes a lot more preparation."

No matter what the rotation is this week, one thing that you can count on is the continued physical and energetic play out of the offensive line. Even if he's at center or tackle, Pugh says the same group will be on the field that has worked together the last three weeks in some form or fashion and he likes the way they have come together.

"The six of us have been working in there with King (King Dunlap) and Jason and Chaz (Chaz Ramsey) and Lee (Lee Ziemba) and Tyronne (Tyronne Green)," Pugh says. "We have been bonding so well the last three or four weeks. It has been real neat watching how everything has come together. I think we've got something real special."

The toughest aspect of replacing a player like Bosley may be from a leadership standpoint. An experienced center with 10 starts under his belt at the position, Bosley is just beginning to come into his own as the center of the line. While he doesn't want to replace Bosley, Pugh says he can be a good substitute if called upon to do the job against Arkansas.

"I look at myself as a leader as well," Pugh says. "Maybe I'm young, but I still think I'm a leader on the team. It's something you have to take upon yourself early and prove to everyone. I'm definitely going to have to fill his shoes. He knows the playbook and the offense real well. He's not going to miss very many calls. That's just how Jason is. He plays hard. It's not going to be Jason, but I'll be the closest thing you can get to it."


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