Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne looks for room to run against San Jose State
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne leads the SEC in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns two games in the season, but a fast start in Gus Malzahn's scheme of things shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
"All in all, you just know you're going to get opportunities in this offense," Artis-Payne says.
Tre Mason led the SEC in rushing last season, and the Tigers, as a team, did one better, leading the nation in rushing. Mason is gone to the NFL, and Artis-Payne is ready to keep Auburn on the run.
He does not lack confidence and now has a chance to show what he can do. The difference from last year to this year, he says, is "understanding and reading the blocks better. But, all in all, just being more comfortable and knowing you're going to be in the game and not worry about playing time."
He has rushed for 289 yards and four touchdowns in wins over Arkansas and San Jose State, and now has time to rest up for Auburn's next game, on Sept. 18 at Kansas State. The Tigers don't play this Saturday.
He rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns in Saturday's 59-13 win over San Jose State, gaining 106 of those yards and scoring all the TDs in the first half. With the game in hand, and others wanting a chance, Artis-Payne mostly watched in the second half.
"I'm for whatever helps the team," he said. "Selfishly, everybody wants to keep getting the ball, but at the end of the day we have to go with the looks they are giving us and what the defense is giving us."
Artis-Payne was in the mix for a lot of carries early last season, but, as Mason took off, he moved into a relief role. Now, he and Corey Grant are the primary tailbacks.
"I'm going to keep improving. I'm not where I want to be yet," Artis-Payne said.
Artis-Payne's early assessment on quarterback Nick Marshal, and everything else? "The offense is great. We've got Nick, who is a threat everywhere. Our receiving corps is great.
"The offensive line wanted to come out and be very physical, and that's what they did creating a lot of holes.
"The physicality up front was one of the biggest things, I think we did that well."
And the running backs? "We're doing well with the mix. Corey brings a bunch of speed to the table and also has improved his inside running."
Artis-Payne says his opportunity is now.
"I wanted to come out and show my speed because everybody says I'm a bruiser. That's a big thing to me."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine