December 24, 2013

Full power

AUBURN | It used to be so easy for Jay Prosch.

During his two seasons at Illinois beginning in 2009, he was lead blocker in an offensive scheme designed to feature tailback Mikel Leshoure. Prosch existed solely to eliminate linebackers or anyone else who dared approach Leshoure from the front.

It was simple life.

"I didn't have to worry about where I hit somebody," Prosch said with a smile. "There's a hole and there's a linebacker at the end of the tunnel and I'm running full speed at him."

Things are different with Gus Malzahn.

The Auburn coach's offense, an enticing marriage of Wing-T and shotgun-spread concepts, asks much more from its designated blockers. Though the Tigers focus on tailback and quarterback powers that require Prosch to be a brute, several other common plays ask the H-Back to make more complicated blocks.

It's not always about enforcing in the alley.

And that's a big part of what flummoxed Prosch in August and September. The team's toughest player missed too many assignments in games against Washington State, Arkansas State and Mississippi State. A mental adjustment had to be made.

"What I'm doing now is a lot of position blocking -- still a lot of forceful blocks, kicking out defensive ends and stuff like that, but also some finesse blocks where I have to seal linebackers and get out to cornerbacks and safeties."

It's not easy.

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