AUBURN, Ala. -- While Auburn’s running backs pile up the yards, the offensive line is piling up the knockdowns.
Slade has started 30 career games for Auburn/Todd Van Emst photo
So far, junior center Reese Dismukes leads the way as the group competes to see who can finish the season with the most knockdown blocks.
“I'm behind him with 63. He's up there with 70,” junior guard Chad Slade said. “I still have a lot more to go. I told him I'd catch up to him. The top three are Reese, Greg and me. I'm right there with them. I'll end up catching them.”
Slade said left tackle Greg Robinson has 68 or 69 total knockdown blocks, many of them highlight worthy.
“He's had plenty of those -- a lot of those,” Slade said. “Greg is one of the strongest linemen that we have and a lot of the things we see on film that he does is amazing. He can just literally go up to a linebacker and just push him over.”
Slade said he had one of those highlight blocks a couple of weeks ago against Texas A&M.
“Oh, it's a great feeling,” he said. “For the most part, it's finishing your block and you feel like you have accomplished a lot of things. You might open a hole for a running back or help Nick (Marshall) for a long run or something like that. It's just a great feeling to know that you did something like that to help the team.
“It's something that you have to do as an O-lineman. You have to be that person to finish your block, you have to be that nasty person on the field, that person who wants to get a person on the ground. That's how our O-line mind-set is: We want to be the best O-line, but we also want to be the O-line that by the time you leave the next day, we want you to feel sore the next game. That's just how we play.”
Slade credited Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes for instilling that physical toughness in a group that’s currently first in the SEC and fifth in the nation averaging 315.4 rushing yards per game.
“He has brought a lot to us,” he said. “He has brought the mindset that we have to be physical in each and every aspect of the game. We can’t give up and go out there and have mental mistakes. You have to go out there and play each and every play one snap at a time. You can’t go out there and worry about the next play or the play you just had. You have to worry about the next play. It’s all about the next play.
“He has brought a lot of intensity to the offensive line now. Coach Grimes is a person that is never going to change and he’s making us 10 times better than we are.”
Auburn’s offensive linemen have stayed relatively healthy this season, but there has been some shifting among the starters at right tackle. Sophomore Patrick Miller started the first five games of the season before being sidelined by a suspension.
Redshirt freshman Avery Young started the last three. With Miller expected back this week, Slade is looking forward to a big battle for the starting position heading into Saturday’s game at Arkansas.
“They are both competitive guys,” he said. “I know with Pat coming back he wants to win that starting spot. Avery has to keep it. It’s going to be a good competition going out at practice. I know both of them are going to get after it. It’s going to be very intense between those two.”
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