October 9, 2013

Power line

AUBURN | The defensive front was an obvious strength during Auburn's 30-22 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday night, but it wasn't the only unit of big bodies who performed well.

As has been the case for much of the season, the offensive line was a catalyst for the Tigers' offense against the Rebels.

"Going into last night's game we challenged our guys, really across the board, but especially up front, to be physical -- be the more physical football team, and I really thought we were," offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. "I thought from start to finish up front we were really trying to be physical, and I think it showed as the game went on. Overall, the first five games, I think our offensive line has done very good, I really do. I think they've gotten better each week. I think we've proven a strength of ours is running the football."

It's clear that the offensive line has made drastic improvements since last year. Auburn's per-rush average has risen from 4.07 in 2012 to 5.22 this season. That's a rise of 29 percent.
Stronger blocking up front has allowed the Tigers to jump from 11th to 5th in that category -- a significant move in a conference loaded with premier defensive linemen.

Pass blocking has been upgraded as well. Auburn allowed roughly three sacks per game during the 2011 and 2012 seasons combined, but that number has dropped to below one per game this year.

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