Injuries Update: Bosley, Grooves, Blackmon, Johnson

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Consistency is KEY.

But Auburn’s offensive line, which had built valuable chemistry over the last three games, is likely to have a new look Saturday against Arkansas.

Center Jason Bosley missed Sunday’s practice with an injured left knee. Head coach Tommy Tuberville said Bosley was unlikely to play this weekend.

“It doesn’t look good,” Tuberville said.

With Bosley’s status unclear – a diagnosis won’t be available for a day or two – true freshman Ryan Pugh moves to center. Pugh began the year as AU’s backup center, but replaced senior King Dunlap at left tackle three games ago, against New Mexico State.

Since moving to left tackle, Pugh has spent between 12 and 25 plays each practice at center, mostly with the second-team offensive line.

He’ll spend all of this week at center, according to offensive line coach Hugh Nall.

If Bosley can’t play, Pugh will start at center, with Dunlap returning to left tackle. The rest of the line – right tackle Lee Ziemba and guards Tyronne Green and Chaz Ramsey – will remain the same.

That fivesome played together for the first time against Vanderbilt, after Bosley’s second-quarter injury. The line wasn’t perfect – Nall said performance “dropped off some” after Bosley’s injury. But the more they work together, the better the new combination will be.

That’s especially true for Pugh, who has some experience at center but very little at making calls for the first-team line. Making that adjustment is priority No. 1 for the line this week in practice.

“It’s just a matter of getting reps, getting in there and everybody hearing him make the calls with that group,” Nall said. “He’s been working center with the second group all this time – he just hasn’t worked with the first group all that much.”

Pugh says he prefers to play tackle, but is looking forward to the challenge at center this week.

“Maybe I’m young, but I still think I’m a leader on the team,” he said. “It’s something that you have take upon yourself readily and prove to everyone.

“(Bosley) knows the playbook and knows the offense real well, and he’s not going to miss many calls. … I’m not going to be Jason, but I’ll be closest thing that I can get to.”

AU returns to polls

After a three-week hiatus, Auburn is back in the top 25. The Tigers fell out of the rankings Sept. 9, after their loss to South Florida.

After a loss to Mississippi State the following week, AU has won three consecutive games – including a road upset of then-No. 4 Florida – and improved to 4-2 and 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Pollsters have taken notice.

Auburn is ranked No. 22 in this week’s Associated Press poll, with 248 points. The Tigers are 59 points behind No. 21 Florida State and 112 points ahead of No. 23 Texas.

Seven SEC teams are ranked in this week’s AP poll: No. 1 LSU, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 13 Florida, No. 17 Kentucky, No. 22 Auburn, No. 24 Georgia and No. 25 Tennessee.

AU is ranked 25th in the coaches’ poll, just six points behind No. 24 Purdue.

Injury report

Bosley isn’t the only Auburn starter in jeopardy of missing this weekend’s game.

Defensive end Quentin Groves (dislocated toes), safety Aairon Savage (knee) and linebackers Tray Blackmon (ankle) and Merrill Johnson (shoulder) all missed last Saturday’s win against Vanderbilt but will most likely play again Arkansas.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said coaches wouldn’t know the injured players’ status until today or Tuesday.

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