So, with all of the talk about Curtis Luper and Trooper Taylor along with the gang being led by Coach Gene Chizik, I wanted to bring up another coach that has kind of been neglected in my view. First of all, I'm not taking anything away from the other coaches and I also must mention Coach Thigpen as one of the touted recruiters. However, there is one guy that I think has done a tremendous job who seems to be going unnoticed. Then again, with his job it is normal for people to overlook your performance if things are going great. In actuality, it's only when things go really wrong that people pay close attention to this part of the game.
You figured out who I'm talking about yet? Well, if you haven't guessed it yet, I'm actually giving Offensive Line Coach Jeff Grimes his proper dues. I think he's gone way under the radar. Granted, I like that but I just have to give credit where credit's due. Yes, the receiver and quarterback play greatly improved in 2009. Still, we must not forget it all starts with the big uglies in the trenches. And, those big uglies are led by none other than Jeff Grimes. True, Auburn did in fact give up 21 sacks in 2009 as opposed to 19 for the 2008 season. I think that stat came about because Kodi Burns had the ball so much in 08. Let's face it, Todd's cement shoes were the antithesis of quarterback mobility. Furthermore, Todd did have a tendency to hold on to the ball for eons it seemed. In addition, the Gus Bus liked to pass way more than what was featured that dreadful 2008 season.
Auburn had about 1665 rushing yards in 2008 with Tate being the main contributor giving the Tigers 664 yards on the ground. Damn an Auburn back with less than 700 yards and that was the feature guy. I still shudder when I remember it. If you believe that running the ball is a great litmus test for how good your line is, then I have just the stat for you: Auburn actually gained approximately 2763 yards on the ground when the 09 season was finished. Yes, I realize they had an extra game, but that's still one hell of a jump. You're talking damn near doubling the yards on the ground.
I could go over the passing game and its improvement, but I think that has been well documented already. Instead, I'll move on to recruiting. For all we've heard about Luper and Taylor doing great jobs, Grimes hasn't exactly been too shabby either. I know that Luper, Thigpen, and Taylor have not necessarily stuck to their positions in bringing guys to Auburn, but do you really think these kids would've come out here if they didn't like Grimes. I mean Auburn had arguably the best year in recruiting offensive linemen in the country. I have to think a lot of that stems from the guy coaching those who fight in the trenches.
Don't mistake what I'm saying here. Keep giving the other coaches the kudos they rightly deserve. Just remember, Coach Grimes is a huge piece to that foundation Chizik is building right now. I think everyone can agree that the offensive line play saw a drastic improvement in one year. I have to think it'll only get better. Glad you're a part of the Auburn Family Coach Grimes!