Auburn's Peyton Barber looks for room to run against Louisville
By Charles Goldberg
ATLANTA, Ga. ― Peyton Barber was telling the story on how he had some questions leading up to Saturday's game, so, to make sure he was on the right track, he texted his head coach and…
Gus Malzahn interrupted the story to clarify about the timing of this text.
"Midnight," Malzahn said with a smile.
Maybe the timing of the Auburn running back was a little suspect leading up to the season-opener, but his timing was impeccable Saturday. He came off the bench to rush for 115 yards, including 95 in the second half, to help Auburn beat Louisville 31-24.
Barber became the featured back after starter Roc Thomas left with an injury in the second quarter. That's when Barber stepped in, rushing for those career-high 115 yards, and doing it on a career-high 24 carries.
Maybe Malzahn's answer to the text set the stage.
"He told me not to worry," Barber said.
Barber, a redshirt sophomore, rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries last season. Saturday was different.
"It's what I've been waiting on," Barber said.
"He has waited his turn," Malzahn said. "He's had a great attitude. He has a chance to be a very good running back. I'm very pleased."
Malzahn said his team is "excited for Peyton. He's worked extremely hard the last two years. This was his moment. He came through with flying colors. He ran the ball hard, great ball security, and really carried us in the second half."
Barber brought stability to the Auburn offense in the second half.
"We already knew Peyton had the ability to carry the load. He gave us the spark on offense," said quarterback Jeremy Johnson.
"He's just happy he got the chance to finally get out there, and he made the most of it."
Thomas finished with 27 yards on six carries. Jovon Robinson rushed for 16 yards on two carries. Wide receiver Ricardo Louis chipped in with 21 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine