AUBURN | Auburn debuted its third different offensive line against Mississippi State Saturday and the unit helped the Tigers put up 511 total yards including 244 on the ground in a 49-10 win.
The new-look line consisted of Austin Golson at left tackle, Mike Horton at left guard, Casey Dunn at center, Braden Smith at right guard and Darius James at right tackle. That group includes four seniors and Horton, a sophomore.
Out of the starting lineup for the first time this season was sophomore Prince Tega Wanogho, who had started the first four games at left tackle.
“Tega played some tight end. Tega is going to be an outstanding player but we just felt like put a little more experience up there. But we’ve got a lot of confidence in Tega,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
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James was back in the starting lineup for the first time since injuring his neck against Mercer.
“I think we did good,” James said. “Being able to move around shows our versatility and our depth and it shows that we all know what to do.”
Golson has already started games at center, right tackle and now left tackle this season. He played both left tackle and center as a junior.
“He’s a versatile dude. He’s probably our best offensive lineman, either him or Braden,” James said. “I feel like he can be plugged in wherever he needs to be plugged in and wherever coach needs him.”
James said his injury turned out to be a muscle spasm and it locked up his neck for a period of time. Because of the nature of the injury, James was strapped to a board, carefully loaded on a cart and transported via ambulance to the hospital for a full evaluation.
He praised Kristi Malzahn, the wife of coach Gus Malzahn, for being with him every step of what he called a scary situation.
“It means a lot. I’m a transfer and knowing that the coaches’ wife, who is not even on the field, and she runs down here to ride the ambulance with me. It’s a good feeling,” James said. “It tells me Auburn practices what they’re preaching. What they practice, what they preach is Auburn is a real family. A lot of people are really family around here.”
No. 12 Auburn returns to action Saturday against Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT on SEC Network.