Peyton Barber gets a lift from Kamryn Pettway after scoring an Auburn touchdown last week
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says he likes the running backs who'll line up in Saturday's game at LSU, and he's talking both sides.
He has praised his own starter, Peyton Barber, and added LSU's Leonard Fournette is a force as well.
"He's one of the best in the country," Malzahn during Wednesday's SEC teleconference.
Malzahn, of course, also likes Barber, who made a big catch and scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime in last Saturday's game against Jacksonville State.
"Peyton has really stepped up. He'll be the first guy out there," Malzahn said this week.
The SEC stat sheet provides a very small sample size, considering Auburn has played two games and LSU just one, but it does show Fournette leads the conference in rushing average after running for 159 yards in last week's win over Mississippi State. Barber is fifth in the league after two 100-yard-plus games. He's averaging 120 yards per game.
Auburn has had the SEC's leading rusher the last two years in Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne, and now Barber is listed on top of the running back depth chart for the first time this season Malzahn said Barber could have some help in Baton Rouge from Roc Thomas, Jovon Robinson and Kerryon Johnson.
"We have confidence in all those guys. There's a decent chance you could see them all play," Malzahn said.
•Malzahn said injured defensive end Carl Lawson remains "kind of day to day. We still haven't made a decision" on whether he'll play.
• Malzahn said he hopes to have defensive back T.J. Davis back next week. He's been out since having knee surgery in the spring.
He'd be a welcomed addition to a young secondary that got even younger last week when Josh Holsey suffered a season-ending knee injury. Malzahn said Jones' return next week is a "possibility."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine