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'Firepower': Auburn's tailbacks run over Red Wolves

Sep 8, 2013

Carmeron Artis-Payne gets loose for some of his 102 yards (Anthony Hall photo)

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. —  The strategy was to wear down Arkansas State, and who better to do it than Tre Mason, Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne? 

The three Auburn tailbacks rotated in and out and combined for 241 yards rushing in the Tigers' 38-9 win over Arkansas State in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night. 

Mason said the plan was to keep "throwing fresh legs at them. That's our big thing. If one of us gets tired, we go to another set of fresh legs. We try to keep the rotation good, and keep pushing them back." 

Artis-Payne was the third leading rusher among the tailbacks in the first game, but he led the Tigers on Saturday with 102 yards and a touchdown. Mason, who had 73 in the opener, added 99 yards and a touchdown. Grant, who had a team-high 146 yards in the first game, added 40 more and a touchdown. 

Auburn sent Mason and Grant into the fray early, then let the physical Artis-Payne hammer the defensive line in the second half. The strategy worked. Artis-Payne had five carries for 27 yards in the first half. He had 14 carries for 75 yards in the second half, including a late touchdown. 

"That was the game plan going in. With the lead we had, we just wanted to pound them and make them quit, and that's what I feel like we accomplished that," Artis-Payne said. 

"We were very confident. We were going to put the game on running the ball, even though they know it's coming. " 

The three represent Auburn's balanced running attack. Grant has 191 yards after two games. Mason has 176. Artis-Payne has 154. 

Even quarterback Nick Marshall has 80 yards. 

It all adds up to change. Mason was a 1,000-yard rusher last year. Grant was barely used. Artis-Payne is a junior college transfer. 

"You can never go wrong adding more firepower to your arsenal," Mason said. "We're looking forward all year to doing the same thing." 

Mason said the Tigers may surprise thanks to their offensive line leading the way. 

"They're veterans up front. They know what they're doing. They can be one of the best lines in the country," he said. 

Grant was the star in the season-opening win when he had is out-of-nowhere 146 yards. 

"It's pretty exciting going in because you never know whose going to stand out that night," Grant said. "Overall, we just come in and fight for each other and whoever stands out, stands out." 

The Tigers will try to continue their running good fortune in their SEC opener against Mississippi State next week in Jordan-Hare Stadium. But that could wait this Saturday. 

"It was a great night for the tailbacks," Artis-Payne said. "We all support each other. Everybody is happy when somebody makes a play."

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



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