Auburn, Ala.--With less than two weeks before the season opener there is still a three-way competition for the starting right tackle spot.
That was the word from offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on Monday night following a two-hour Auburn practice in full pads.
Avery Young began the 2012 season as the starter, but played in three games before being lost for the season due to a shoulder injury. Now a redshirt freshman, Young has been challenging sophomore Patrick Miller, who started the rest of the season at right tackle last season.
Redshirt freshman Shon Coleman is also competing for the right tackle spot.
“We’ve got a pretty good idea,” Lashlee said when asked about who is No. 1 at right tackle. “We haven’t etched anything in stone yet.
“Pat Miller has been working there a lot the last couple of days as well as Shon Coleman some. Avery Young is still taking reps there, but he has also been taking reps inside at (left) guard as well. We haven’t decided anything yet, but we think we’re getting pretty close.”
Shon Coleman is making a strong comeback from cancer.
Asked if Young may stay inside at the guard spot where redshirt freshman Alex Kozan has been running with the first team, Lashlee said, “It’s possible. As we have gone through camp we’re starting to see where we have strengths in certain places on our line. Some guys move around. He’s really one of those guys, to be honest with you, that is talented enough to play all five positions. He really is.
“We think he’s going to be a big-time player for us,” Lashlee said of Young. “You never know. Going through a season in the SEC you’re going to have injuries so you’re going to have to end up mixing and matching. A lot of that, up to this point, is seeing who we’re going to have that can play multiple spots. Probably here in the next day or so we’ll go ahead and lock them in for the first game.”
Patrick Miller is shown in action during spring drills earlier this year.
Commenting on Miller’s preseason performance, the offensive coordinator said, “I think it's been good. He got a lot of reps in the spring and he has really come on as fall camp has gone on. He is a real big strong guy so he is really good in the run game. He has gotten much better in his pass protection so he's been a bright spot in camp, for sure.”
Commenting on Kozan, Lashlee said, “Kozan’s done a really good job for us. He's a really smart player, he's tough. He's smart, he's tough, I think he's gotten much more athletic. I think his time with Coach (Ryan) Russell has made him much more flexible and athletic. He's been a very solid, steady bright spot on the offensive line for us. We've got a lot of confidence in Alex.”
The coach said the Tigers have a chance to go into the season with depth up front and that he has seen the offensive line group mature “a lot” since the end of spring drills.
“You can tell that having 15 days in the spring, having the whole summer on their own, and now having a couple of weeks that they're really starting to gel, even though we moved some guys around there are about seven or eight that really hang in with that first group, and there’s no secret that Reese Dismukes is our leader. We expect that group to be the strength of our team, especially early, and I've been really pleased with the progress they've made with Coach (J.B.) Grimes here in fall camp.”
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