Could Running Game Become More Dangerous This Saturday?
Kerryon Johnson scoring one of five touchdowns against Missouri on Saturday, September 23
(Photo: Auburn Athletics/ Todd Van Emst)
The Auburn offense showed signs of diversity in Saturday's 51-14 win over Missouri at Faurot Field.
The star of the unit? Kerryon Johnson.
The junior running back returned to the starting lineup for the first time since injuring his hamstring in the season opener against Georgia Southern, and rushed for five touchdowns, one shy of tying the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season, held by Auburn legend Carnell Williams.
Seven Tigers carried the football for a total of 263 yards on 53 attempts. Johnson says that the offensive output is something that Auburn is capable of doing game in and game out.
"We have shown flashes, but to do it for four quarters is what we were going for," says Johnson. "It helps when we do not turn the ball over. We just moved (the ball), we stayed ourselves, we took care of the ball, that was a key part of the game.”
The way that Auburn defeated Missouri makes the trip home shorter and practice on Sunday a stroll according to Johnson. The Auburn run game was dominant in the first SEC win of the season, but, it could become even more dangerous Saturday against Mississippi State.
Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway have not been available simultaneously for a single game this season, and, for the most part, have not played a game at 100% since last season's 31-14 win over Mississippi State on October 8, 2016. Could the dynamic duo be available this weekend? No official word has been set as of publishing time, but Gus Malzahn did mention that Pettway practiced on Sunday, and that the opportunity could be there Saturday evening.
Johnson likes the challenge that he and Pettway present to opposing defenses.
“Any defense will tell you that when you have two backs, and they are both different, that’s puts you on a constant edge," says Johnson on defenses preparing for both him and Pettway. "When a new guy comes in, you have to start thinking “what about this play?” I think it proposes a great challenge for defense, it keeps them on their seat. It makes them have to think about more things differently."
Johnson played sparingly in the season opener, and played significant against Missouri. Pettway played in games two and three, against Clemson and Mercer respectively. Another back has gotten significant snaps, and happens to be Auburn's leading rusher at the moment, Kam Martin. In four games, Martin has carried 23 times for 210 yards and a touchdown. Johnson has high praises for the third-string back.
"I have always said that Kam has always been more than capable. He’s a great running back. He’s a patient guy. Kam just gives 100%."
#13 Auburn continues preparations for #24 Mississippi State, the second game this season that Auburn has faced a ranked opponent. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 P.M. inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.