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April 5, 2014
The new guard
AUBURN | The Tigers held their first spring scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday and something interesting happened.
There was a new combination along the offensive front.
Avery Young, who has been working at right tackle since arriving in 2012, moved inside and worked at guard with the first-team offense. Patrick Miller flipped from left tackle to right tackle and Shon Coleman handled responsibilities on the left side.
That shuffle left regular right guard Chad Slade on the bench.
"You have to be ready for anything because we've got the six best offensive linemen in college football and you've got five spots," Miller said. "We've got a killer offensive line and an awesome offense. It's very exciting."
Young said the move is more palatable than it sounds. Though guards in Gus Malzahn's offense are required to execute pull blocks far more often than usual, Young handled those kinds of assignments while playing tackle at Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High.
The fact that Young is entering his second full season in this offense also brings clarity to the new set of tasks.
"I just brings me back to my high school days," Young said with a smile. "I used to be a beast at it. I think the running backs like it a lot more as far as me being able to get out in front of them."
For Miller, the adjustments are more subtle. He simply inverts what he's been learning on the left side and integrates that to what he used to run on the right side.
He started at right tackle last September. A suspension and improved play from Young combined to force Miller to the bench during the season's second half.
"I like playing next to Avery. He's real fast," Miller said. "I feel like I'm a faster offensive lineman, too. I like the speed where he's at, but I'll play wherever they want me to. If I can get on the field I love that. That's how everybody is. We have an offensive line that will all do whatever the coach asks."