When head coach Hugh Freeze first took over the Auburn football program last December, he knew that the immediate priority would be recruiting, primarily along the offensive line. For years the Tigers have struggled to recruit offensive linemen, a failure that has clearly shown on the field over the past few seasons.
Freeze put in the work and locked down multiple offensive linemen in the recruiting class of 2023 and then went to the transfer portal to bring in more reinforcements for the upcoming season. Nearly the whole offensive line was new this year, from Avery Jones to Gunner Britton to Izavion Miller, to name a few.
This season, the line has improved leaps and bounds, especially for a group that was pieced together over the offseason. However, struggles with injuries have led the coaching staff to have to make unconventional adjustments when it comes to playing time, per Auburn Undercover. Though it’s not usually done, the Auburn football staff have been forced to rotate the linemen, which Freeze believes is for the best:
"“We’ve got to rotate those guys to hopefully, I mean, it’s a long season. We’ve got four more games, and we need all those guys to play significant snaps.“So I think rotating them is in the best of us, but to handle all the stuff that State throws at a team the way they did in the first half was really, really remarkable, truthfully. I expected a lot more negative plays than we had. And they protected the quarterback really well, the first half especially.”"
According to Gunner Britton, the key to this plan is making sure that everyone is prepared, ready to play at any given time, and knows their job. No one knows this better than true freshman Connor Lew, who was called to start due to Avery Jones’ injury. Getting through the rest of the season with the available guys is the top priority for the coaching staff, and they’re doing everything they can to make sure the Tigers are able to protect the quarterback.