Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE
The Tigers had a major shakeup this past weekend along the offensive line with the indefinite suspension of starting center Reese Dismukes after an arrest for public intoxication.
The Tigers staff had to shuffle the offensive line rotation to make up for the loss of Dismukes, but the mix and match is not too extreme. The major moves pushed Chad Slade inside to right guard and landed Avery Young—true freshman tackle—on the outside at the right tackle position.
In Dismukes’ place is Tunde Fariyike, a rising sophomore that has been a center since arriving on the Plains, taking snaps behind Dismukes in mop up duty last fall.
The Tigers will have John Sullen at left guard, and Greg Robinson will anchor the left side of the line, lining up at left tackle.
Sullen, Slade and Robinson were all expected to earn starts. Losing Dismukes will hurt but he is being replaced by a player with some experience. The biggest question surrounds the right and left tackle positions, where the Tigers will start two players with no college game experience.
Greg Robinson has been receiving rave reviews since arriving on the Plains a year ago, and Avery Young has received the same. They will be the keys to the Tigers' line continuity. Tackles tend to be the root of most false start calls—having any mental issues in Atlanta will spell danger for the Tigers' new offense looking for the right groove.
This will not be an issue of whether the Tigers can block the defensive line, but how well the Tigers communicate. How will Fariyike adapt to the major stage on which he now finds himself?
If Auburn can use the leadership found in Sullen and Slade to help settle Fariyike and the line as a whole early, Auburn should be OK in this first game. Don’t expect them to be error-free or to have an amazing performance upfront. A manageable performance will be good enough.
This line must settle early to push the new offense over the hill and into the end zone.