Position Previews: Offensive Line & Tight End
This is the third feature of my 2012 Position Previews. If you missed the last one which featured the running backs, click here.
Let’s be real here, Auburn’s 2011 offensive line was bad. There was no significant improvement as the season went on, and struggled against the more elite defensive fronts in Georgia, Alabama and LSU, which is simply unacceptable.
Now in fairness, it was a young line. And in 2012, they are all a year older and it should be a better unit. Auburn is still struggling to replace the stars of the 2010 offensive line, but gaining some depth and competition amongst these places has been a critical need for Jeff Grimes. The one bright spot of last year was Reese Dismukes, who had a decent year considering he was a true freshman. The experience will help him grow as a sophomore.
Greg Robinson is the favourite to take over at left tackle, and Eric Mack will likely stay at right tackle as well. Robinson is a man-child, standing at about 6’5 and weighs around 315. He had a year to redshirt and get up to speed on the college game. The year has been beneficial to him, and I believe he has the chance to be a breakout player on offence.
Auburn’s recent signing class was full of impressive offensive line prospects, which included Patrick Miller, Shanee Callahan, Jordan Diamond, Alex Kozan and Avery Young. I expect Young, Miller and Callahan to challenge for the starting spot at right tackle in fall camp. Young works hard, and is eager to start this fall. He’s in shape, and he’s ready to compete. Miller enrolled early so he has an advantage over others as well.
This might be the safest position on offence, as the Mackey Award watch-list Phillip Lutzenkirchen will play his final year at Auburn as a senior. It’s pretty safe to say that Lutz might be the best tight end in the school’s history, and as long as Auburn’s quarterback situation improves (and he stays healthy) then I expect Lutzenkirchen to make some serious noise in the Mackey Award voting come December. He has everything you need in a tight end – smarts, good hands, big body and is also a blocking terror. With Jay Prosch manning the fullback spot, I expect some big things out of Lutzy this fall.
Behind him, however, are some young and inexperienced bodies. Brandon Fulse got some playing time last year, and was a mixed bag for the most part. Freshman Ricky Parks will also work this fall to get some play, but there’s no telling how much. The big 6’7 Hutcherson could also contribute, but will likely miss the start of fall camp due to grades.
What to expect
The offensive line will have to improve this season if Auburn are to have success on offence. Last year proved difficult, as Auburn were easily outmuscled up front, which contributed to Trotter and Mosely’s troubles when passing the football. The tight end position will be held down by Lutzenkirchen, but I hope to see Fulse impress this season when he gets the opportunities.