By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Marlon Davidson started his very first game a hundred years ago. Or was it just six games back?
Sometimes it's hard to remember how many freshmen and sophomores are contributing for Auburn this season, and Davidson, a true freshman, is among the youngest of the lot.
"I do forget a little bit," says fellow defensive lineman Montravius Adams of Davidson's rookie status.
Freshmen, sophomores and the redshirt version of each have famously contributed for 88.2 percent of Auburn's offense, and will be counted on again Saturday when the Tigers start the second half of the season against Arkansas at 5 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium on ESPN. Auburn is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas is 5-2 overall and 1-2 in the league.
The game will feature the two most effective passers in the Southeastern Conference in Auburn's Sean White, who leads the league in passing efficiency; and Arkansas' Austin Allen, who is second in efficiency and first in touchdown passes with 18.
White started some last year, but now, still as a redshirt sophomore, qualifies in Auburn's young-guy stats.
"We've got more new starters and more freshman probably than I can remember," said coach Gus Malzahn.
But, as Adams remembers, "Coach Malzahn said last week, we're at midseason, so they're not really freshmen anymore. They've played six games and it's time to turn the page."
Davidson is a good model for Auburn's youth movement.
"Really, it's kind of simple," Adams said. " He comes out to practice to get better and in a game, every week his progression goes up. That's great as a freshman and great for any player. He does all the right things from film to practice and working on his fundamentals. I think the sky's the limit and he's going in a positive direction."
Six of Auburn's top seven rushers are either freshmen or sophomores. White has most of the passing stats. Freshmen and sophomore receivers help fill up the stat page, too.
"That’s good from the standpoint of the future and I think that’s good from the standpoint of having a chance to improve each game, too," Malzahn said. "I know there are challenges with inexperience and young guys, but the thing about it is we’re halfway through the season. We’ve got guys that have half a season of experience. You’ve got to take the next step and that’s what we’ve been challenging our young guys to do."
Senior offensive lineman Alex Kozan says he likes what he sees.
"We are playing a lot of young guys, freshman and sophomore especially at skill positions," he said. "From Game One to the last game you can really see they be more confident in themselves and what they are doing on the field."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine