Auburn Football: Alex Kozan's Absence Forces the Tigers to Adapt

By Zach Pugh

Defending a Southeastern Conference title was already going to be difficult, but after the news broke on Friday that sophomore All-SEC guard Alex Kozan will miss the remainder of the season, the sky in Auburn, Alabama darkened. The Auburn Tigers will have to replace 14 starts and a critical piece to an offensive line that made the Tigers the best ground game in the nation last season. However, has the sun set on the Tigers because of one injury?

Obviously, it’s never easy to replace a starter, especially a player of Kozan’s caliber. The 0-line was already a bit thin on the left side, as tackle Greg Robinson now has a home in the NFL. What’s the plan moving forward? Now is the time to put the depth gathered the last few years to the test. Auburn fans can rest easy. The Tigers have pulled in a top five recruiting class four out of the last five years within the conference. While they may not have the factory of talent production at every position, War Eagle still has enough depth to survive a bit of turmoil.

According to the plan is to move senior Chad Slade back to left guard to play alongside player favorite Shon Coleman while Avery Young will step into Slade’s old spot at right guard. Even with Kozan’s absence, the Tigers still have three returning starters with a combined 99 starts. There’s enough comfort from the amount of game time shared, but how long will it take for the players to get on the same page?

There’s enough time for the line to find a consistent level of communication before they open the season against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The most important aspect is that the players don’t seem too concerned about the shifting up front. That kind of confidence could be what the offense needs to hit the ground running on August 30.

Zach Pugh is a SEC Football Writer for and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @RadioZachCFB, Google+ and Facebook.

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