Pugh Pulling Double Duty For Tigers

Sophomore offensive tackle Ryan Pugh talks about working at the center position on Thursday and gives his impressions of the offense.

Auburn, Ala.--Sophomore offensive lineman Ryan Pugh was recruited to play the center position out of Hoover High but wound up starting at offensive tackle for the Tigers as a true freshman. This season he's expected to be the starting right tackle while also seeing some time at center as the back up to Jason Bosley.

Things can change very quickly in a violent sport like football and it happened on Wednesday as Bosley twisted his back and left practice early. Still out on Thursday morning, Pugh worked as the first team center. Even though he's played the position his whole life, he said the transition is a tough one to make no matter when it happens.

"It's hard," Pugh said. "It's definitely not easy. It's a completely different concept. There are completely different techniques. You go from right tackle and really not doing anything but line up and play, to going to center and getting everybody else lined up to play. There is a lot of thinking at center. The guy is a lot closer to you. You are ahead of everybody else. You've got to snap the ball, you've got to have a good snap, you've got to get the cadence. You've got a lot of things you've got to go through before the ball is even snapped."

One of the toughest aspects of playing in Auburn's offense right now is the speed in which things are done. Normally you play full speed from the snap to the final whistle and then a break occurs, but not in Franklin's system. Things are done at a rapid pace throughout practice, something Pugh said the offense has been well prepared for since the spring.

"The conditioning factor is not a problem right now as far as on offense that I see," Pugh said. "The coaches have split the reps up real well right now. Coach Yox (Kevin Yoxall) worked us in the offseason as hard as I've been worked in a long time. The conditioning right now is really good and that's helping us out on offense."

The main reason for the tempo is to not only run more plays on offense, but also to wear out the opposing defense late in the second and fourth quarters. Pugh said that's something they're conscious of, but the main thing they want is to control the pace of play no matter the opponent or situation. Pugh added if they can do that against Auburn's defense then it should be something they can do to other teams as well.

"Right now the speed our defense has got dictates the game," Pugh said. "That speed dictates how you play, but at the same time we're trying to turn that around and dictate how fast we want to play. That's something Coach Franklin really stresses every day at practice and that's the tempo of the practice, getting from drill to drill, from play to play, getting the signal and getting lined up. We're trying to turn it around where the offense sets the tempo."

Saturday is the first scrimmage of the preseason and that is always a gauge for the development on both sides of the ball. Normally this time of year you hear coaches talk about how the defense is ahead of the offense. Pugh said he doesn't see that this season and he hopes that continues heading into the opening game against Louisiana-Monroe.

"I feel pretty good," Pugh said. "I don't know about ya'll watching, but the offense has definitely put up some points early in two-a-days which is a really good sign. Sometimes you don't see that as much with the offense. Usually it gets behind because it takes a lot more chemistry to play offense. Defense is a lot about effort and running to the football.

"On offense you've got to have 11 guys on the same page every play. Right now I feel like even though we've had a couple of guys go down on the offensive line, and that's the most crucial part of the offense right now, I think you still have gotten some chemistry up there among the top eight guys. It has been fun the past couple of days and I think you'll continue see us improve."

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