BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Auburn's defensive line is widely considered one of the top in the country, but head coach Gus Malzahn believes the linemen on the other side of the ball will also be a strength.
Last season, Auburn's offensive line was one of the most inexperienced as a group in the SEC. The offensive line allowed 23 sacks in 13 games and averaged allowing 1.77 sacks a game.
Not only did the offensive line allow 23 sacks in 13 games, but they also played a part in ending Auburn's bid for a 10th-consecutive season with a1,000-yard rusher season, a streak that began in 2009.
This season, all five starters on the offensive line are returning and will be looking to improve upon last season's disappointment.
Malzahn said at SEC Football Media Days he feels good about the position group building and learning off of last season's growing pains, especially with the senior leadership.
"Offensive line, all five starters are back," Malzahn said. "They are five seniors. They went through some growing pains last year. They got beat up. They kind of got an edge about them. They went through spring against our defensive line and really held their own. They got something to prove, and I feel really good about that group."
Auburn's offensive line brings back some talented seniors such as left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho and right tackle Jack Driscoll. Driscoll will need to stay healthy though as backup right tackle Austin Troxell suffered a torn ACL earlier this spring and is expected to miss all of the 2019 season.
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Troxell saw action in 13 games last season as a backup right tackle and is "really like a starter." according to head coach Gus Malzahn.
Auburn will have a lot of pressure on the team this season to perform in all aspects after a disappointing 8-5 season. But there is an added pressure for the offensive line because of the wearer ground attack in the 2018 campaign.
Even with the loss of Troxell and the disappointment from 2018, Gus Malzahn believes the offensive line can handle the pressure and expectations.
"They started playing good football, probably the last quarter of the season last year," he said. "Played very good in the bowl game. And in the spring they held their own against our defensive line. They are a confident group. We can make adjustments. Real pleased going into the season with that offensive line."
Star defensive lineman Derrick Brown also said at media days he's seen a great deal of improvement since last year.
"Those guys have been together all offseason and took their game to a whole new level," Brown said. "I got a chance to go against them in the spring, and I whole heartedly believe iron sharpens iron."
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