The new-look Auburn offensive line is going to ‘bring the juice’

Published Aug. 12, 2023, 7:00 a.m.
By Matt Cohen |
There’s a lot to get acclimated to making the move to the SEC, so new Auburn offensive lineman Dillon Wade started with a table at Baumhauer’s Victory Grill and a plate of Bam-Bam Shrimp.
And of course, a greasy plate of chicken tenders at Foosackly’s too.
The food may be the simple part. The shrimp and chicken are reliable every time. Then comes the challenge of why Wade and a slew of other transfers were brought here.
Football Outsiders ranked Auburn’s 2022 offensive line among the bottom third of FBS teams in multiple statistics including sack rate. Auburn had to make changes and did so with new coaches and new players. Wade, who came to Auburn from Tulsa, is among three transfers that could start on the offensive line alongside Western Kentucky transfer Gunner Britton and East Carolina transfer Avery Jones.
Throughout periods of practice open to media, those three have been entrenched on Auburn’s first group of offensive linemen. Sixth-year guard Kam Stutts has also started every practice with that group on the right side. The left guard spot has been rotated between junior Jeremiah Wright and junior Tate Johnson.
It may be early, but their teammates have said they already notice an added energy in this group. Kentucky transfer defensive lineman Justin Rogers said he sees them giving their whole effort on literally every play — which other Auburn players said didn’t happen in previous camps.
“Really the whole offense line, they be bringing juice,” Rogers said. “It’s literally like we’re in the game every day going against them guys. So you’ve got to bring your A-game or, shoot, you’re going to get embarrassed.”
From his own side of the line of scrimmage, Wade said what Rogers sees is exactly what he’s trying to bring.
“We for sure bring the juice,” Wade said. “When we’re together, oh yeah, you better get out the way. You better get out the way.”
The on-field product started with building relationships off the field. Britton, Wade and Jones all committed to Auburn in late December or early January and have had time to get to know each other.
Britton said he’s gone with his new teammates to play golf. Wade isn’t a good enough golfer to play with Britton, he’ll admit, so he said goes to the gun range instead.
“A bunch of pieces from different places coming together to form one unit,” Wade said of building chemistry. “As much as you are together on the field, you have to be together off the field. We all go out to eat, hang out together and watch film together and bond.”
Wade said he was a “little raw” over the summer trying to play with purely his athleticism — Britton called Wade a “freak show” because of that. So fall camp has allowed Wade to focus more on his technique.
That technical focus also includes what it takes to play as a unit. And in fall camp, all the time spent together off the field as a unit is paying off on it.
“Spring, it was a little rough,” Wade said “Fall camp? We’ve come together quite lovely, I’ll say that. We’re almost there. Like a little bit more. A little bit more communication, a little bit more technique and we’re almost there.”
The talent infusion has allowed Auburn to play at the high-speed Freeze and offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery have pushed in their new system.
“I would say we built something really nice in the spring and to add guys into it,” Britton said. “(Hugh) Freeze talks about it a lot is filling the holes. That’s kind of what I feel like we’ve done over the last six months of recruiting and stuff. Even bringing in guys like me that are ready to play now.”
And it’s working so far. Multiple Auburn defenders have talked about the pace being hard to keep up with. Wade is hoping that means come the real game, they’ll catch opponents’ defensive fronts still standing up when the ball is snapped — and that may draw penalties.
Doing all that in practice is already keeping Auburn’s defensive front on its toes in a place where there isn’t a scoreboard to matter.
“You’ve got to be ready,” Rogers said. “And don’t blink. You blink, you’re going to get messed up.”

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