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Auburn wants toughness from Jovon Robinson, Roc Thomas
March 25, 2016

Auburn's Jovon Robinson was strong down the stretch last season
Auburn's Jovon Robinson was strong down the stretch last season

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. ― Toughness seems be a buzzword in the Auburn running back race this spring, and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says two of the contenders are being asked to show plenty of it as the Tigers move to Saturday's first full scrimmage Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Jovon Robinson, who bounced back from an early injury last season to lead the Tigers in rushing over the final six games; and Roc Thomas, who was slowed by a leg and foot injuries on occasion, are working to fill the gap left by the departure of blue-collar running back Peyton Barber. Kerryon Johnson, the sometimes-Wildcat quarterback, is not participating in live drills after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery.

That leaves Robinson and Thomas this spring.

"That’s probably one of our better competitions," Lashlee said. "You look at a guy like Roc, who earned the starting job before the season started and got nicked up so it was kind of an up and down season for him. How does he make it through spring and these scrimmage-type situations coming up?

"You look at Jovon and he finished the season up well in a lot of areas, but he hasn’t carried the load for 14-15 games, which you have to do to get where you want to go in our league."

Barber was Auburn's leading rusher last season with 1,041 yards on 238 carries. Robinson had 645 yards ― 619 of those coming in the last six games ― on 117 carries. He was named the MVP of the Birmingham Bowl after rushing for 126 yards. Thomas had 274 yards on 43 carries. Johnson had 222 yards on 52 carries.

Lashlee said running back coach Tim Horton always stresses toughness to survive the SEC.

"Who can display toughness running the ball and in pass protection, not just every now and again, but on a consistent basis. Right now those are the guys that are healthy. We have a lot of information on them, but at the same time, they still have a lot of room for improvement," Lashlee said.

Overall, Lashlee said, "those guys' attitudes and work ethic have been great. A lot of the things we’re stressing to all of the guys are effort, attitude and toughness. That’s three things you can control that have nothing to do with talent. How much effort? What’s your attitude like and how tough are you? When you see Roc come in a little bigger, you see Jovon slim down to maybe add a little burst to his game, that’s good."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:


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