Bryan Harsin’s Monday press conference returned to its regularly scheduled 1:30 slot after Auburn’s bye week, where no media availabilities were scheduled. Harsin addressed the impact of Kilian Zierer in Austin Troxell’s absence during the Arkansas game.
Left tackle Troxell was not listed as having any particular injury, but he was out for the 2019 season. He stepped up in 2020 when Brodarious Hamm had injury issues, starting in three regular season games as well as the Tigers’ bowl game against Northwestern.
Rather than any one issue, Troxell is likely facing general wear-and-tear that comes to a starter as the season progresses. Harsin has said in previous press conferences that this becomes a growing concern with each additional week.
Kilian Zierer, however, was up to the challenge. The junior had seen action against only Akron and Alabama State but emerged from the Arkansas game as the team’s selected offensive lineman of the game.
“Proud of him and his opportunity to get in there and play. He did a very good job obviously,” Harsin said. “It was good to see him go out there and just improve as the game went on and also have the opportunity to be the offensive lineman of the game.”
With the bye week providing an opportunity for some rest and recovery, Troxell is set to make his return this week in a late-night matchup with Ole Miss. Zierer’s role in practice increased, but he is expected to return to his role as backup.
“That’s continued through this week, where his preparation, his play has gotten better," Harsin said. "We’ll get Austin Troxell back, and so that will be good to have both those guys in that position.”
In the wake of Zierer’s quality performance, Harsin says he may continue to have a role going forward. Troxell will remain the starter, but the two could move towards a more shared role to combat injury.
“The thing about Trox--that dude is tough," Harsin said. "He is blue collar. He is tough. He is everything that we talk about in this program. He lives it and he’s a guy that, in my opinion, exudes that mentality that we want to have, so those guys will get the chance to compete.”
Regardless of who gets the starting nod, Harsin is pleased with the effort each has put into practice this week. Both can get the job done successfully and to his standards, so fans will have nothing to worry about in terms of performance.
“One of the hardest things is when somebody gets injured, and they’ve been out there fighting for you and…someone comes in and plays really well,” Harsin said. “There’s a positive to that, because that player that came in was ready for his opportunity and you’re always telling guys to be ready.”
Auburn will face the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday, OCt. 30 at 6 p.m. CST, a game that will shakeup the SEC West standings regardless of its outcome.
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Callie Stanford is from Springville, Alabama and is currently a sophomore at Auburn. She has been with The Plainsman since January 2021.