Auburn’s Nall under pressure in ‘08

By Robert Rousseau  |   Wednesday, April 30, 2008  |  Comments( 1 )

Auburn Tigers
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What do ex-Auburn Tigers and former All-SEC selections Marcus McNeill, Ben Grubbs, Tim Duckworth, Ben Nowland, Kendall Simmons, Monreko Crittenden and Danny Lindsey have in common?

First, they’re all offensive linemen. Second, they all played under current Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall.

That said, the past two seasons haven’t exactly fallen under the stellar category for the offensive line, particularly in relation to past years. Thus, Nall has found himself under some criticism. So the fact that he now must transition to working under a new offensive coordinator and system is interesting to say the least.

But forget the present -- for now. Let’s talk about Nall’s past.

Nall was a four-year letterman on the offensive line at Georgia and a member of its 1980 national championship team. He has some strong SEC ties, then. Moreover, his coaching career started in 1981 as a student assistant for the Bulldogs. From there he headed away from his home conference in order to coach Georgia Southern’s offensive line from 1981-84 before moving on once again to Texas Christian from 1989-92 in the same capacity. Nall did such a good job with the Horned Frogs, in fact, that they decided to name him associate head coach and defensive line coach from 1993-94.

But in the end, Nall was an SEC guy. Thus, when then-Mississippi head coach Tommy Tuberville came calling for him, he couldn’t resist. From 1995-98 Nall coached the Rebels offensive line and followed Tuberville over to Auburn in 1999.

He’s been there ever since, with the one major guffaw coming when he took over as offensive coordinator in 2003 unsuccessfully, only to move back to O-line coach the next season.

Beyond coaching, Nall was named one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation by Rivals in 2006 and 2007.

Nall has never really come under any fire for his recruiting prowess. That said, some have attacked his coaching skills in the past -- as was previously noted -- particularly after his failed attempt at offensive coordinator and the weaker line the team has fielded the past two seasons.

But there is no arguing two things. First, Nall has coached some outstanding offensive linemen; so he must be doing something right. Second, his intense loyalty to Tuberville makes him somewhat indispensable to his head coach.

Will Tony Franklin’s new offensive system help or hurt Nall’s ability to coach the line? That’s hard to say. On one hand, there likely won’t be nearly as much pressure on his line and the backs to grind out yards on their own. On the other hand, there is likely to be much more pass blocking, and the Tigers will not be successful if the offensive line allows anywhere near the same amount of pressure on their 2008 quarterback as they did with Brandon Cox the past two seasons.

Still, if you’ve seen the youth and talent on Auburn’s offensive line, then you probably know things look ready to once again take off up front.

Auburn fans are looking forward to seeing how Nall and the line perform in 2008, and rightly so.
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About Robert Rousseau

Robert Rousseau is a sports writer that has been published in a variety of print and online venues. He’s been writing for for almost three years now. When Rousseau isn’t writing about college football he tends to be penning mixed martial arts pieces for or...
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