NCF Nation: John Sullen

The last thing Auburn needed this close to next Saturday's season opener against Clemson was an off-the-field incident.

Moreover, one of the last players Auburn could afford to lose was sophomore center Reese Dismukes, who was a freshman All-American last season and the closest to a sure thing on Auburn's inexperienced offensive line.

As fate would have it, Auburn will be without Dismukes next Saturday when it faces Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in Atlanta. Auburn coach Gene Chizik suspended Dismukes on Saturday following Dismukes' arrest early Saturday morning on a charge of public intoxication.

Chizik's statement didn't specify how long Dismukes would be suspended, but it will at least be for the opener. Auburn plays at Mississippi State the second week of the season.

That Chizik would suspend such a key player for such a key game over a relatively minor charge tells you all you need to know about where Chizik's tolerance level is for off-the-field nonsense. He's obviously sending a message to his team for the long term. After all, it hasn't been the rosiest of offseasons for the Tigers.

Props to Chizik for taking a strong stand. It takes guts to put your best offensive lineman on the bench for an opener as pivotal as this one. Then again, Clemson will be in the same boat. All-America receiver Sammy Watkins will miss the first two games following his drug-related arrest in May.

The loss of Dismukes presents a couple of different problems for Auburn, which was already lacking experience on its offensive line. Dismukes started all 13 games at center last season, and his backup, sophomore Tunde Fariyike, has never started in a game. That means Auburn could have as many as three or four offensive linemen making their first career starts against Clemson. Three freshmen are in the rotation -- redshirt freshman Greg Robinson at left tackle, true freshman Avery Young at right tackle and true freshman Alex Kozan at guard.

There's also a chance that Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes could do some shuffling. Senior guard John Sullen and Kozan could be possibilities at center, and if Sullen does makes the move to center, redshirt freshman Christian Westerman would then move up the depth chart at guard.

However it shakes out, Auburn is going to open the season with a handful of guys seeing their first meaningful action in the offensive line.

The other thing to consider is that sophomore Kiehl Frazier will be making his first start at quarterback, which is unnerving enough. Now, he's going to be taking snaps from somebody other than the starting center and the center he worked the most with this preseason.

That's never an ideal combination -- a first-time starter at quarterback and a new center.

Lineup changes for Auburn and MSU

September, 10, 2011
9/10/11
12:29
PM ET
AUBURN, Ala. -- Kickoff is here on the Plains and we have some lineup changes for both teams.

AUBURN
  • A.J. Greene will start at right tackle this week. Last week, redshirt freshman Chad Slade started at right tackle. Greene's return is big for the Tigers. He missed most of last season with an injury and he's viewed as one of Auburn's most athletic offensive linemen.
  • With Greene starting at right tackle, Slade will move over and start at right guard in place of John Sullen.
  • Defensive back Jermaine Whitehead will wear No. 32 instead of No. 3 today.
MISSISSIPPI STATE
  • Wide receiver Chris Smith will start for Sam Williams this week. Williams had three catches for 27 yards, including a long of 17 last week.
SOME PREGAME NOTES
  • Spirit, the eagle that flies around the stadium before the game, went a little off course this morning. It almost flew into a window and got pretty close to some fans in the stands, but when it landed at midfield this place exploded. Really cool tradition.
  • There is some bad blood between these programs because of the whole Cam Newton fiasco last year, and the Auburn fans let the Bulldogs know it when they came out of the field. Boos rained down from all directions and the Bulldogs seemed to love it as they lifted their arms, calling for more.

What we know in the SEC

August, 19, 2010
8/19/10
6:14
PM ET
Now that everybody in the SEC has gone through at least one scrimmage in the preseason, what do we know now that we maybe didn’t know when practices began earlier this month?

Right tackle battle: The consensus coming into the preseason was that junior college transfers Brandon Mosley and Roszell Gaydon would battle it out for Auburn’s right tackle job. But after three scrimmages, sophomore John Sullen and junior A.J. Greene (the other one) are the two guys fighting it out for the final starting spot on Auburn’s offensive line, which returns four senior starters.

Davis sighting: In danger of being labeled a bust, Ole Miss junior running back Enrique Davis has played some of his best football this preseason and displayed some of the same moves that made him one of the top running back prospects in the country when he signed with the Rebels.

Please remove your hat: You better not wear a Florida hat to one of Arkansas' press conferences. If you do, you might not have a job the next day, especially if you’re in the media. Wonder what would have happened if Renee Gork had been wearing one of those Hog heads instead of a Gators cap?

Lee to baseball: Zach Lee was intent on playing football and baseball at LSU and possibly could have played his way into some snaps this season at quarterback for the Tigers. That all changed when the Los Angeles Dodgers offered him a $5.25 million signing bonus, leaving LSU with just two scholarship quarterbacks on its roster.

Brown is back: Nobody questioned Jeremy Brown’s ability, but there were major questions about his back. So far, so good for the Florida sophomore cornerback, who’s in line to replace Joe Haden after missing two straight seasons with chronic back problems. Brown is due some good luck.

Turning the Tide: Nobody’s saying Alabama is going to be subpar on defense, but the personnel losses from a year ago have been obvious so far during camp. It’s a secondary that has a ways to go, especially when you consider how much Nick Saban likes to use five and six defensive backs.

Freshmen of influence: It’s still a little bit of a crap shoot, but the early returns are that South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, Auburn receiver Trovon Reed, Auburn running back Michael Dyer, Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter, Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, Alabama cornerback DeMarcus Milliner, Arkansas defensive tackle Byran Jones, Florida defensive end Ronald Powell and Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd are 10 true freshmen we’re going to see early.

Masoli’s impact: We haven’t heard much from Jeremiah Masoli this preseason. He’s been extremely guarded with the media, but he’s fit in well with his teammates and has made a difference for Ole Miss offensively with his ability to scramble around and make plays.

Getting defensive: Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino told us that the Hogs would be improved on defense. The real proving ground comes in several weeks, but star quarterback Ryan Mallett is a believer. He said the Hogs have been aggressive, fast and nasty on defense this preseason.

Houston, we have a problem: It’s clear that Georgia’s Justin Houston is going to be a problem for opposing offenses, and it’s equally clear that he’s a perfect fit as an outside linebacker in the Bulldogs’ new 3-4 defense. He had 7.5 sacks last season. Here’s betting he gets 10-plus this season.

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