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Auburn offensive improvements: It starts up front

Oct 3, 2020; Athens, GA, USA; K.J. Britt (33) react before the game during the game between Auburn and Georgia at Samford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics
Oct 3, 2020; Athens, GA, USA; K.J. Britt (33) react before the game during the game between Auburn and Georgia at Samford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

 

Athens, Georgia, has not been kind to Auburn in recent years, as the Tigers extended their losing streak in Sanford Stadium to seven games on Saturday. The 27-6 Georgia win marked the fifth consecutive game in Athens where Auburn failed to score more than 10 points, dating back to 2011.

In preparation for Saturday’s game, Auburn will need to become more proficient offensively if it wants to avoid an upset from an Arkansas team whose hungry for another conference win.

The slate was wiped clean for the Tigers’ offensive line this season, returning no starters from a year ago due to graduation and the NFL Draft. In order for the offense as a whole to start clicking better, so will this less-experienced offensive line.

Chemistry is crucial in having solid protection up front. If a lineman knows what the players around him will do on any given play, protections are less likely to break down and gaps are created for the run game.

“You know, just the continuity of an offensive line,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “You need the same guy beside you for repeated reps so they can communicate, work together.”

The offensive line will have to create gaps for its running game against Arkansas, something it was unable to do against Georgia. The Tigers had no success in running the ball, gaining just 39 yards rushing all evening. With Georgia continually adding on to its lead and Auburn’s inability to gain yards on the ground, the offense became what Malzahn called “one-dimensional”.

Auburn’s going to need to have success rushing against Arkansas to slow the game down for Bo Nix and prevent a one-dimensional offense.

“ I think the big thing is going to be to help [Nix] out is to be more balanced,” Malzahn said. “To be balanced, you have to be successful running the football, too.”

As the season progresses, so should the offensive line. It should gain more continuity and the chemistry between the lineman should continue to develop. The run game development coincides with the offensive line’s improvement as it relies on the gaps that the line creates. The offense will be able to be more two-dimensional once this happens, allowing for more pass plays and play-action passes to be set up.

“The hard thing in fall camp is we didn’t have all five guys at any time for any week,” Malzahn said. “So the good thing is this group will improve each week, and that continuity -- we’ve had like three weeks in a row where we do have the continuity -- so we’ll improve.”

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