Auburn's offensive line 'can get better' down the stretch. Will they pull it off?

The Tigers had one of their best games up front — with a first-time starter — before the off week. Keeping that momentum will be crucial.

(Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)

There might have been a familiar sense of dread among members of the Auburn fan base just before 11 a.m. two Saturdays ago.

During pregame warmups for the Tigers’ road game against Arkansas, starting left tackle Austin Troxell was not with the first-team line. In his place was Kilian Zierer, who had only appeared in two games — garbage time in blowouts over Akron and Alabama State — prior to that road trip.

Auburn starting a relatively brand-new player, especially one primarily tasked with protecting quarterback Bo Nix’s blind side, on an offensive line that has gotten its fair share of criticism in recent seasons seemed ripe for frustration. Arkansas’ defense, while not one that racked up many sacks, entered the game ranked inside the top 30 nationally in tackles for loss per game.

Four quarters later, Zierer left the field a winner. Auburn had defeated a ranked Arkansas team away from home by two touchdowns, and the big German-born tackle played a key ro…

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