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There's room to run for Corey Grant, Cameron Artis-Payne
Sept. 10, 2014

Corey Grant is coming through for Auburn, too

By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala.  True enough, answered Gus Malzahn to a question, Cameron Artis-Payne has run for some tough yards and appears faster, too.
But the Auburn coach also threw in some good words for Corey Grant on Wednesday, reminding one and all during the SEC teleconference that he still considers Artis-Payne and Grant to be 1 and 1A at the tailback position. 
Artis-Payne leads the SEC in rushing yards with 289; and in rushing touchdowns with four. But there is room at the top for Grant. Malzahn said freshman backs Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber are in the mix for carries as well. 
Auburn has time to consider that during this week's bye week, though the Tigers are working toward next Thursday's game at Kansas State.
Malzahn said Artis-Payne has made a "big impact" taking over as the lead back, at least in the first two games, for the departed Tre Mason.
"He's run extremely hard. He has a lot of yards after contact, which is very important," Malzahn said. "He's the type of runner, too, I believe gets stronger as the game goes on."
Mason led the SEC in rushing last season, helping Auburn lead the nation in rushing as a team. Malzahn said Mason and Artis-Payne know how to get the yards.
"I've been blessed to coach some really good running backs," Malzahn said.
Exit Mason. Enter Artis-Payne.
"I think there's probably more similarities than there are differences," Malzahn said. "Tre was such an exceptional between-the-tackles runner and I think Cameron has some of those same traits. Cameron also has gotten a little quicker, a little faster from this time last year. He's probably lost anywhere from five to 10 pounds. I really think that's helped him."
Grant is known for his speed to the outside, but, said Malzahn, "Corey has done a good job so far running between the tackles with some tough yards and really feel like he's improved."
Grant is seventh in the SEC in rushing with 176 yards. Auburn leads the conference in rushing.
"Of course, we've got the two freshmen (Thomas and Barber) we're definitely going to bring along that we feel like are both very talented," Malzahn said.
Malzahn also said…
 • He was happy to see the same tricky pass that Nick Marshall threw for a touchdown against Alabama last season worked for the Super Bowl champs Seattle Seahawks last week.
"It was pretty neat to see plays that are run here work at the next level. It's pretty impressive they way they executed it," Malzahn said.
 • Malzahn said he's surprised that anyone is questioning Marshall's passing. Marshall led Auburn to five straight touchdowns last week in a 59-13 win over San Jose State. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee defended Marshall on Tuesday as well.
"From a coach's standpoint, there were two or three times it wasn't the quarterback's fault as far as everything goes," Malzahn said. "From the casual eye, it may look that way. There was one time we put him in a bind because they had the perfect defense for it. He did a good job of throwing it away. We feel very good about where he's at. You have to remember, he's the guy who led us to the national championship, and we came within 13 seconds. We really believe in him. He has gotten better. I think as the season goes on, even the casual eye will be able to see that."

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



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