ROCKFORD - The last three years the Auburn Knights have had the luxury of some huge bodies in the trenches. Now the Knights will try to win big on a smaller scale.
No one in the NIC-10 scored more points than the Auburn Knights last season thanks in part to their physically superior offensive line, but that's not the case anymore. Big Vederian Lowe, Donterrio Hannah and Earnest Austin aren't suiting up for the Knights this season because they've graduated.
"The last few years we've been kind of known by the size of our o-line, and you know three and four year returning starters," says Auburn coach Dan Appino. "That class has graduated so I think the chip our on shoulder is to maintain that standard of excellence even though you've got brand new guys in."
The group is now filled with smaller and less experienced players led by Keivon Walston, and Lance Morgan. Playing behind this young offensive line is quarterback Quay Thompson. Thompson played behind last season's line when he filled in for the injured Nathan Jarrett at quarterback. Thompson likes what he sees from the new guys.
"The young guys they have a lot of energy," says Thompson. "That also comes with youth, and they just want to be able to go out there and play football."
Auburn also has plenty of talent at the skill positions beginning with three-year starter Daqwuan Bell who ran for more than 1200 and 16 touchdowns in 2016.The production of the skilled players goes hand-in-hand with the new offensive line. That's where the defense comes in.
((Appino)) "I think in terms of getting other offenses off the field, and give our offense every opportunity to get back on it is going to be critical, because they're going to have some misfires. They just are," says Appino. "It's a brand new offensive line."
The defensive side of the ball has experience. Seniors Xaiver Trammell, Terry Purifoy, and Syni McLin anchor the line. Seniors Liam Hayes, Josh Cooper and Elijah White hold down a talented linebacker group. All-conference defensive back Jamus Neal leads the secondary.
((Daqwuan Bell, Senior Running Back)) "We've just been pushing forward," says running back Daqwuan Bell. "A lot of people have been saying we can't do this, we can't do that, but we just have to keep going."
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