Golson Expresses Confidence in Auburn's Offensive Line Unit
Austin Golson during 2017 fall camp at Auburn University (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
The Auburn Offensive line has seen its' share of shake ups, going back to spring practice. Whether it is a new transfer, or a possible line up shuffle, one thing can be said about the 2017 offensive line...
Experience is prevalent.
Senior Austin Golson's position on the line was believed to be in question with the addition of Casey Dunn, an All-American at center for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks before transferring to Auburn as a graduate student. Which would not have been too big of an issue, because Golson has experience at both guard and center. When the depth chart was released on Tuesday, Golson found himself listed in the number one slot at his familiar position, center.
Golson says that in his fourth year of playing college football, he is as comfortable as he as ever been.
"It’s been crazy because I have played so many positions. I have not been able to focus on just one position, and really perform my best, or feel as comfortable as I could feel. Now, I feel that I am at that point," says the Prattville native. "I know that the coaches trust me, or I would not be out there. I have got to keep building, and keep finding ways to get better at my craft.”
Playing at the center position is where Golson thrives the most, but he is not letting that deter him from playing other spots on the line, if needed.
"I very seldom see the same five guys be on the field for every game because you never may know what happens. I am probably going to stay greased up for the positions, in case they need me to move here or there. That will not be too big of an issue.”
A key component in being a great center, especially in the Southeastern Conference, is finding rhythm with your starting quarterback. Golson has snapped the football to several quarterbacks during his time at Auburn, this season will feature another teammate for Golson to build chemistry with, in Jarrett Stidham.
"We probably have 50 practices together, says Golson of his familiarity with Stidham. "I feel very comfortable snapping the ball to him, and that he is going to make the right decisions, the right calls. I am excited to see him play in a real game.”
The right side of the offensive line will feature returning starters. Alongside Golson, Braden Smith and Darius James make their way back into the starting lineup. The other two spots will be filled by newcomers in Prince Tega Wanogho (left tackle), and Mike Horton (left guard). Golson has high praise for both players.
"He was really good for us last year, he was our sixth guy, and he played in some very critical snaps and did some really good things," Golson said of Mike Horton, a lineman that was used as a sixth-man in specific packages, appearing in 12 games a season ago. "He has done nothing but continue to get better each practice.”
For Wanogho, Golson is just as amazed as the coaching staff at how quickly he has grasped the concept of left tackle, considering he only played one year of football prior to enrolling at Auburn, and was not an offensive lineman when he began his career as a Tiger.
“You would have never thought last spring that he would be as good, or be in the position that he is in right now, because he has never played offensive line, much less has not played football. He is probably the most improved guy on our team, I would say. It’s not even close. He’s freaky athletic, and big and strong and fast. He’s smart, he cares about football.”
Wanogho, Horton, Golson, Smith, James. Those are the starting five for the season opening game against Georgia Southern on Saturday evening. The Tigers also feature two graduate transfers with vast experience, as well as a handful of others who can step in at any moment and succeed. This gives Golson peace of mind.
"There are seven guys that can start at most schools in the SEC on our offensive line, I firmly believe that. I believe that is going to go a long way with us. I know that everyone out there is going to keep giving their best everyday, because at any given moment, somebody may get nicked up or bruised, and somebody has to jump in. Or somebody may not producing as well, and we have other guys that are ready to play. I think that the competition has been very useful and good."