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Auburn tailbacks at break: 'Four guys we feel good about'
Oct. 15, 2014

Auburn's Corey Grant cruises into the end zone against LSU

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Auburn's Gus Malzahn continued to tout his running back corps Wednesday, saying "we're fortunate to have four guys we feel good about."

One of the guys  Cameron Artis-Payne  has been the runaway choice to carry the ball among the tailbacks, but Malzahn said he's looking for ways for Corey Grant, Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber to get more invovled.

"We wanted to give Roc or Peyton or both more touches in the LSU game, but the situation never presented itself," Malzahn said during the SEC teleconference. "In each game, we'll have different plans."

Artis-Payne, who was named Wednesday to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, has more than three times as many carries as Grant. Thomas and Peyton are behind him. 

Not to be forgotten is quarterback Nick Marshall, who is Auburn's second-leading rusher with 492 yards and four touchdowns on 75 carries.

Artis-Payne, who succeeded Tre Mason as Auburn's primary back, has 664 yards and five touchdowns rushing on 126 carries. Grant, who has five carries in the last two games, has 254 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries. Thomas, who started off fast in last week's game at Mississippi State, has 108 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Barber has 50 yards on nine carries.

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Sunday that Thomas could help Artis-Payne be ready for the second-half run. That help could start duirng the bye week.

"The more and more reps you can get as a young guy, the better," Lashlee said. "It's just common protections, running the ball, just feeling more comfortable.

"I think it's a positive for CAP because you saw last year when Tre got rolling, CAP was a great complement to him. I mean, he rushed for over 600 yards, and Corey had his stuff. It would be the same way, just in a reverse manner. If CAP can get a blow at times, the change of pace helps. They are a little different style backs. I think that could be a positive for both of them. They could feed off of each other."


Malzahn said again he welcomes this week's bye week as a chance for the coaches to map a plan for the second half of the season.

This second of two bye weeks falls right in in the middle of this year's schedule.

"We're at the halfway point. From a coach's standpoint, we know a lot more about our team than we did last year, but there is still things we can improve on, and get better scheme-wise, possibly, personnel-wise. It gives a good chance to evaluate everything," he said.

The added bonus: "To get some of our guys healed up for the stretch run."

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



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