Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s math didn’t quite add up Tuesday when he tried to dodge a question about his staff’s plan for the offensive line.
“Really the way I look at it, we’ve got six starters,” Malzahn said. “That’s how I look at it. Obviously we played very well the other night, but we’ve got six guys we feel great about and that’s kind of our approach.”
Auburn started Austin Golson at center and Darius James at left tackle for a third straight week in the team’s 56-3 win over Arkansas.
Xavier Dampeer started Auburn’s first four games at center, but injured his leg in the second half against LSU.
The senior was back at full strength Saturday following the bye week, but the coaches kept the reconfigured offensive line in place for the matchup against the Razorbacks.
“That’s just what we felt like,” Malzahn said after the game. “We felt like we played very well the last game out. We felt like we would stick with that lineup.”
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee sees no reason to alter that philosophy for the trip to Ole Miss with Auburn’s line playing the best it has all season. The Tigers’ 543 rushing yards on Saturday were the second most in the Gus Malzahn era.
“We have all the faith in the world in X, but kind of the way things have been working lately, we're sticking with the unit that we have,” Lashlee said. “With five games left, you're one play away from things changing there. The best thing is our guys up front improved dramatically from week one to where we are now. Just from the physicality and the vertical movement we get and just working together. That has shown the last couple of weeks."
Auburn’s offensive lineman Braden Smith doesn’t believe they are done getting better either.
“It just depends on how hard we work for it,” Smith said. “I don't think there really is a limit. We can be as good as we want to be.”