AUBURN, Ala. — With only two weeks left until the A-Day game, Auburn has decided to reshuffle its offensive line.
Avery Young, who started the final nine games at right tackle last season, moved inside to right guard on Thursday. He stayed at the position on Saturday as Auburn held a half-scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Young wasn’t sure whether the move will be permanent.
“It’s really kind of neutral right now,” he said. “I just have to learn the position. I don’t really know how they feel about it.”
If Young stays at right guard, he’ll have to beat out Chad Slade for the starting job. Slade started all 14 games at the spot last year; heading into the fall, the rising senior has made 36 starts at multiple positions on the line.
Even though some of the concepts are the same, Young said “everything” seems different sliding to the interior of the line.
“(I’m) just really learning the system and getting my footwork right,” he said. “There’s a big difference than playing at right tackle.”
But he’s no stranger to playing guard — at least prior to arriving on the Plains.
“It just brings back my high school days,” he said. “I used to be a beast at it. I think the running backs like it a lot more as far as me being able to get out in front of them.”
While Young took reps at right guard, a familiar face stepped in at right tackle: Patrick Miller, the player Young battled at the position during fall camp last year. Miller eventually won the job and was in the starting lineup for the first four games. He lost the starting job after being sidelined for an undisclosed violation of team rules, giving Young his chance to join the first-team offensive line.
This spring, Miller shifted to left tackle, where he has alternated with Shon Coleman.
Now back on the right side, he was excited to have the chance to play next to Young.
“He’s real fast. I feel like I’m a faster offensive lineman too,” Miller said. “I like the speed where he’s at, but I’ll play wherever they want me to. If I can get on the field, I love that. That’s how everybody is. We have an offensive line that will all do whatever the coach asks.”
He then reflected on how the spring has unfolded for him up to this point.
“I transitioned to the left side and sharing reps with Shon over there,” he said. “One day I’ll be going with the orange and one day I’ll be going with the blue. He’s doing the same thing.”
Despite being locked in a competition, Miller had nothing but good things to say about Coleman.
“Shon is such a power guy,” he said. “Shon is such a big body and strong dude. He’s clearing out that hole and I know they like to run that over there. I’m a power guy too and I’m going to move some people also.”
After working solely on the left side prior to Thursday, Miller admitted he was a bit surprised to return to right tackle.
“I just had to switch over and switch up all my plays,” he said. “You have to be ready for anything because we’ve got six of the best offensive linemen in college football, and you’ve got five spots.”
In Miller’s estimation, the Tigers’ offensive line is one of the strongest units on the team.
“I just feel like we have a ton of depth,” he said. “I feel like we’re finally running an offense that we’ve had two years to learn. We’ve got a killer offensive line and an awesome offense. It’s very exciting. I feel good and feel like we’re going to be a force. We’ve got to get a lot better, we always have to get better.”