Auburn offense will reset tackles in 2018, but has obvious solutions

Auburn football will return to action in less than two weeks with the start of spring practices on March 1. Between now and then, SEC Country will preview each of the Tigers’ position groups heading into camp. Up next, we take on the offensive tackles.

Auburn offensive tackle depth charts

Left tackle

  • Prince Tega Wanogho (Junior)
  • Bailey Sharp (Junior)
  • Austin Troxell (Redshirt freshman)

Right tackle

  • Calvin Ashley (Redshirt freshman)
  • Prince Sammons (Sophomore)

D epartures and arrivals

  • Departures: Austin Golson, Darius James
  • Arrivals: None

The question

Are the two starting jobs locks or will there be some intrigue at tackle?

Auburn must replace both regular starters from the 2017 season at tackle in Golson and James. However, these races don’t look completely up for grabs. Wanogho started seven of the Tigers’ 14 games at left tackle and improved in the second half of the regular season after a slow start. If the roster stays as it is, the blind side looks to be his.

At right tackle, Ashley redshirted the 2017 season as Auburn’s only 5-star signee from the previous class. The Tigers didn’t need him then. They probably will now. He was listed as the second-team right tackle behind James for the entire season, even though he never saw the field. The talent is there, it’s just a matter of molding it into what it needs to be in time for the season.

SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEWS:  QB | RB | WR | HB/TE

The pushes for playing time will come from Sharp, Sammons and Troxell. Each one is an outsider, but all three were highly touted recruits at one time. But the biggest challenge could come from possible graduate transfer Calvin Anderson. The Rice tackle, who is a highly rated pass protector, will make his decision later this month. Auburn is a finalist. If Anderson comes to Auburn, he could dramatically shift who plays where in 2018 — all across the offensive line.

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Auburn tackle Prince Tega Wanogho should be a starter again in 2018. (Justin Ferguson/SEC Country)

The star

Prince Tega Wanogho

Wanogho is the offense’s only tackle with starting experience, and he seems destined to be a first-team player somewhere on the line in 2018. A highly athletic player for his size, Wanogho excelled in run-blocking and making highlight-reel plays up the field for the Tigers. Wanogho has to improve in pass protection, though, especially with his footwork. He’s still relatively new to the position — and the sport in general. Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes should do a lot for his development.

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Auburn tackle Prince Sammons will challenge for playing time this spring. (Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country)

The wild card

Prince Sammons

Like Wanogho, Sammons is a relative newcomer to football. He turned some heads during bowl practices in his redshirt season of 2016. However, Sammons wasn’t talked about much during 2017 after spring practice. He has the tools to be a devastating force at right tackle. If he can challenge Ashley on that side of the line, Auburn will be a lot better for it in the long run.

The prediction

If Calvin Anderson isn’t part of the equation, these two position battles will be as straightforward as they come.

Anderson’s arrival could shake things up and create some intrigue for fall practices. If Anderson decides to go somewhere else than Auburn, there shouldn’t be too many question marks here. Wanogho has the experience to lock down one tackle spot, while Ashley has the talent to take the other over the rest. The only question might be where they put them — both could play either side of the line.

Auburn football-Auburn Tigers-Auburn-J.B. Grimes-offensive line
Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes has a reputation for being a top-notch talent developer. (Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)

The stat

36 vs. 19. Auburn surrendered 36 sacks last season, which was the most in two seasons under former offensive line coach Herb Hand. Under Grimes, who is back for his second stint as line coach, Auburn allowed no more than 19 sacks in a season. While Auburn passed more in Hand’s years than during Grimes’ tenure, there’s reason to believe the veteran coach can help the Tigers’ protection woes in his return.

The quote

Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey on right tackle Calvin Ashley:

“He’s been with the scout team running the defense, I probably haven’t seem him as much as a normal guy that’s with us all the time, but he’s got a lot of ability for sure. I think he’s got a really bright future, just has to continue to play and get reps.”

The post Auburn offense will reset tackles in 2018, but has obvious solutions appeared first on SEC Country.

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