Auburn Relying Heavily on Freshmen For a Change

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - When Auburn coaches were recruiting Lee Ziemba, they didn't promise him instant playing time or a chance to start the first game of his college career.

They didn't have to. The roster and the loss of four starting offensive linemen got the point across just fine.

The freshman right tackle is virtually certain to start September 1st against Kansas State for the preseason 18th-ranked Tigers.

Coach Tommy Tuberville hasn't necessarily changed his preference for giving most of his freshmen a year of seasoning and maturation before throwing them onto the field in the Southeastern Conference.

But lack of depth and a highly rated recruiting class mean six or more will be taking the field this season.

If that doesn't sound like much, consider: The Tigers have redshirted all but five freshmen the past two seasons combined.

Ziemba is trying to become the first offensive lineman to start his whole freshman year for a Tuberville team since Terrence Metcalf at Mississippi in 1997.

Safety Michael McNeil, defensive end Antoine Carter, center Ryan Pugh, linebackers Bo Harris and Brent Slusher and receiver Chris Slaughter are all strong candidates to see action as freshmen, at least on special teams starting out.

And quarterback Kodi Burns has been battling Blake Field for the backup spot behind Brandon Cox with Neil Caudle injured.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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