May 25, 2012

Jake's Take: Next in Line

For new Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler's system to work in 2012, the Tigers must become much better upfront. Luckily for Auburn, the offensive line cupboard is full of young talent ready to show off their skills.

Auburn will have to be able to demand more respect from defenses to open up big play opportunities, and it all starts upfront. The Tigers new offense will be run heavy with constant play-action, and should still be full of surprises.

Finding players with potential on Auburn's offensive line isn't a hard task, but living up to that potential most certainly is.

Below is a look at the offensive line:

Offensive Line


Shane Callahan (6-foot-6, 280 pounds, True Freshman)

Callahan was very high ranked prospect coming out in last year's class, but there are still some parts of his game that are very underappreciated. One of the first things that jump out about Callahan is his natural size.

Weighing in at 280 pounds, Callahan has great weight distribution allowing him to be quicker in his movements along the line. Callahan also plays with tenacity, which is something SEC offensive linemen must have.

At the snap, Callahan comes off as hard as possible each play, regardless of the competition. Sometimes big high school offensive linemen can relax and just push kids around, but Callahan makes it his mission.

One thing Callahan needs to improve on is his leverage off the ball. Being really tall can sometimes backfire on offensive linemen, especially on running plays.

For Callahan to come in and play he must improve fundamentally, but he has the mental part of his game right on track.


Eric Mack (6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Sophomore)

Mack is one of Auburn's most talented offensive from a skill set standpoint, but the mental part of the game is what has kept him from being a consistent starter. If Mack squares up the defender, regardless of what type block, he should win most times.

A great example of where mental lapses have hurt Mack during games was in last year's bowl game against Virginia. Mack was in for two straight plays, and busted his assignment each time. One bust led to a sack, and the other for a minimal gain on a running play.

Mack is still relatively young, and had to make some progress weight-wise before he could even play. The chance for Mack to be successful is there, and this might be the year for him to break out of his shell.

The best thing about Mack's game is his ability to come off strong, and block in open space. Blocking a defender half your size, but at least twice your speed is very difficult in open space. However, Mack is outstanding at picking off defenders in the open field.

If Mack can increase his awareness on the field, he should be a solid cog up front for the Auburn offense in 2012.


Jordan Diamond (6-foot-6, 289 pounds, True Freshman)

Diamond is a very prototypical looking SEC offensive lineman. He has a wide frame, shoulders, and very long arms. Diamond is an excellent pass blocker because he has great technique, and he plays at full-speed.

I expect Diamond to come into Auburn and have a chance to contribute early. While he may not start right off the bat, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get into the rotation. Watching Diamond's high school film shows just how smart he plays the game as well.

For a true freshman offensive lineman to actually come in and contribute early, they must be able to absorb a lot of information at a fast rate. Defenses today are very complicated, and one mistake can lead to disaster.

For the coaching staff to trust a true freshman protecting the quarterback up front, trust is the key factor. Diamond is they type of player who can earn that trust before the year starts.


Patrick Miller (6-foot-7, 270 pounds, True Freshman)

Miller is another one of Auburn's offensive line signees with massive size, and potential. Miller has a great frame with long arms, and he knows how to use his size to make every block.

Athleticism is key to playing tackle in the SEC, and Miller has tons of it. Miller's pass sets are explosive, which should help him out when defending speed rushers off the edge. Even though Miller is a true freshman, his game is beyond that.

One thing Miller needs to improve on is his balance at the point off attack. Sometimes Miller gets so much momentum going one way, it carries him off the defender.

Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes will have time to help Miller improve his skills before the fall, which makes him an even bigger threat to get playing time.

I look for Miller to become one of Auburn's brightest young players, but there is still a long way to go.


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