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Auburn offensive line ready to matchup against ‘elite’ Texas A&M pass rushers

Auburn offensive line Austin Golson blocks an Arkansas St. defensive lineman Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn offensive line Austin Golson blocks an Arkansas St. defensive lineman Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Alex Kozan has a unique way of putting Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett’s pass rushing skills in perspective.

“It pretty much looks like he was created in a video game to rush the passer,” Kozan said.

The task of blocking the standout lineman won’t fall on Kozan’s shoulders, but it doesn’t stop Auburn’s starting left guard from acknowledging Garrett’s impressive skill set.

“He’s long, athletic and he can bend,” Kozan said. “Great pass rushing talent. Improved as a run defender.”

Garrett’s numbers — 25 career sacks in 27 games — put him among the top all-time pass rushers in the SEC two games into his junior year.

The defensive lineman isn’t the only standout talent upfront for Texas A&M either.

Daeshon Hall, 6-foot-6, 270-pound senior, lines up opposite Garrett to form one of the most talented pass-rushing duos in the conference. The combo started all 13 of the Aggies games last season together and Hall more than pulled his weight getting to the quarterback seven times.

Texas A&M also has a number of talented interior lineman including 6-foot-1, 320-pound sophomore Daylon Mack.

Not only does the group get to the quarterback, but its been effective against the run allowing only 78.5 rush yards per game (2.3 yards per carry). Last week, the 32 yards allowed on the ground was the lowest in the Kevin Sumlin era.

“They have elite talent at their defensive ends and their defensive tackles are pretty good too,” Kozan said. “It’s going to be a major challenge, but we will be ready.”

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn labeled the battle in the trenches a “big factor” in this weekend’s game.

“You have to keep them off balance,” Malzahn said. “When they know it’s pass, especially 15 (Garrett) and 10 (Hall) is very, very good within his own right but 15, if he knows it’s pass it’s an extreme challenge.”

The good news for Auburn is that its offensive line played significantly better against Arkansas St. paving the way for the second most productive game in program history.

“I think we had more cohesion,” Kozan said. “Everything was communicated better definitely, results speak for themselves. Obviously, Arkansas St. wasn’t as good as Clemson was, but I was proud of the way we responded from week one to week two.”

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