Return of JB Grimes will be key to offensive line success in 2018

Auburn football (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
Auburn football (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /

J.B. Grimes is back on the Auburn football sidelines and that’s a really good thing for the upcoming season.

It’s great to see Grimes back as offensive line coach, sporting that orange and blue again. He brings a love for Auburn that is rare to see in even some fans. When I was a student, I had the opportunity to meet Grimes and he shared with me a few stories about his passion for all things Auburn.

He’s quite the talker and, to be matter of fact, not all of them can be shared on a family friendly site. However, one story stuck out to me.

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Grimes and his family were vacationing in Florida several years ago and he was wearing Auburn gear as he entered a restaurant. Their server came up to him and joked about how she wasn’t sure if she could serve them as an Auburn family. He looked at her dead serious and decided that his family was going to leave the restaurant. No one was going to insult not just his immediate family, but his Auburn family.

Even beyond his love for Auburn University, Grimes brings a welcome presence back in the coaching ranks. Herb Hand was fine and had a history with Gus Malzahn, but Hand didn’t quite compare to how great Grimes was during his time at Auburn from 2013-15.

Last season Auburn’s offensive line broke apart, allowing 36 sacks in 14 games. In Auburn’s four losses, it allowed 24 of those sacks. The Tigers finished 100th in the nation, allowing 2.57 sacks per game.  That’s behind the likes of UTSA, Rice and New Mexico State.

This was despite having an offensive line filled with seniors, including second-round NFL draft pick Braden Smith and a three-year starter Austin Golson. However, in 2014, when Auburn wanted to focus on the passing game more with Nick Marshall at quarterback, it averaged 12th in the nation and first in the SEC. I wasn’t a statistics major in college, but I think that’s pretty decent.

Auburn hasn’t experienced such a mass departure of talent along the line since 2011, when only Brandon Mosley was left from the 2010 national championship team. Fortunately, Grimes brings expert leadership and offensive line savvy that few have in the entire country. If Auburn wants to succeed in 2018, it is going to need his leadership to hold the line.

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