TownNews.com Content Exchange

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a seven-part series breaking down Auburn football’s 2021 roster.

Auburn football has a competition at quarterback, a star at running back and some intriguing young options at wide receiver and tight end.

But the offense will only be as good as the offensive line allows it to be.

Here’s a look at what we know and don’t know about the players manning the trenches:

The lineup

Nick Brahms (Sr.), Brenden Coffey (Sr.), Brandon Council (Sr.), Brodarious Hamm (Sr.), Alec Jackson (Sr.), Tashawn Manning (Sr.), Austin Troxell (Sr.), Kameron Stutts (Jr.), Kilian Zierer (Jr.), Keiondre Jones (R-Fr.), Jalil Irvin (Jr.), Avery Jernigan (R-Fr.), Tate Johnson (R-Fr.), Garner Langlo (Fr.), Colby Smith (Fr.)

What we know

What we know is that a lack of experience will no longer be an excuse for the Tigers up front.

It was last season, whether you agree or not. Auburn entered the 2020 campaign with only one player — Brahms — with starting experience. It started seven different lineups, with none starting more than two consecutive games because of various injuries.

“As a group, we kind of didn’t know what to expect going into certain games,” Troxell said.

They will now, though. Seven players started multiple games last season. Manning played next to Jackson and Troxell. Brahms and Hamm played next to both Council and Jones. There won’t be any need to learn the idiosyncrasies of the guy lined up to the left or right because they should already know them.

It will be up to Will Friend, the group’s third position coach in as many seasons, to find the best grouping and get them playing at a high level.

“Chemistry, there’s no question in an offensive line that’s a quality that’s as important as anything. You know, it’s kind of a unit within a unit, a team within a team,” he said. “I do think I see some of that in the group in the little bit of time I’ve been around them, so that’s a start. It’s hard to be successful at this position without that.”

What we don’t know

What we don’t know is which players will make up that best five.

Auburn has eight players who started at least one game last season — Brahms at center, Manning, Council and Jones at guard, and Jackson, Hamm, Troxell and Coffey at tackle. Manning, Council and Coffey were the highest-graded pass blockers last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Brahms and Jones were the best in run blocking.

The Tigers also have Zierer, who hasn’t started a game but was the No. 3-rated junior college offensive tackle in the 2020 class before he missed the season with a knee injury. Coffey missed spring practice with a shoulder injury, so Friend hasn’t even seen all of them in action yet.

And given the way the new coaching staff has attacked the transfer portal this offseason, it’s probably still too early to rule out the possibility of Auburn adding another name to the mix before preseason practice begins.

Breakout candidate

Manning. He was one of only two offensive linemen who started every game last season, and he was the only that graded out in the top three in both run and pass blocking. The year of experience he now has under his belt should only make him better.

They said it

“I think we made a huge stride forward. One of the biggest things we were lacking, maybe, is football IQ. I think coach Friend has done a great job in teaching us the game of football. That can help us make the game slow down for us a little bit and really help the guys know what’s coming.” — Nick Brahms

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, residents need trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by purchasing a digital subscription. Your subscription will allow you unlimited access to important local news stories. Our mission is to keep our community informed and we appreciate your support.

This article originally ran on annistonstar.com.

0
0
0
0
0

Locations

TownNews.com Content Exchange

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.