Can Auburn's offensive line still take a step forward in 2022 — even without Nick Brahms?
The retirement of a nearly four-year starter at center has caused a huge shift in the Tigers' front five for the fall. And what about those co-starters at right guard?
C Tate Johnson and RG Keiondre Jones (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
The narrative surrounding Auburn’s offensive line so far in 2022 has been something to the effect of “it returns a ton of experience, but there’s a question about how much better it can actually be.”
Now, with just a few days away from the start of the season, the first half of that statement doesn’t look as solid as it once did.
Auburn ran 898 plays on offense last season. The two offensive linemen who had 800-plus snaps are done with their college careers.
The only other one with 700-plus snaps is listed as a co-starter on the Week 1 depth chart.
The No. 4 and No. 5 offensive linemen in snaps for 2021 are both back, but they have each missed time in multiple seasons due to injury.
No. 6 transferred.
No. 7 is back. No. 8 is listed as a backup.
Oh, and the replacement for the No. 1 lineman didn’t play a single down of college ball last season.
So whatever preconceived notions you might have in your head about Auburn’s offensive line in 2022 — positive or negative — could easily change in an instant, because this is simply not the same front five that the Tigers had a season ago.
And the direction of the offensive line as a result of those changes will most likely go a long way in determining how successful the Tigers are as a team this fall.
“I say it all the time with the offense, it all starts with those guys,” offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau said earlier this month. “The guys up front, we're going to win and lose games off of those guys in how we protect the quarterback and how we block up front for the running backs. And that's a good thing.
“Everybody always looks at the quarterback, but it's only as good as those guys up front.”