Nov. 2, 2013
Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton had a happy homecoming and Reynolds-Razorback Stadium (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
For Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton, Reynolds Razorback Stadium and Frank Broyles Field were full or memories.
Horton grew up around Arkansas football. His father, Harold, was an assistant on Broyles staff. Horton became an All-Southwest Conference receiver at Arkansas and returned to coach there for six seasons. He became known as one of the game’s top recruiters and mentored the likes of Daren McFadden and Felix Jones.
But when Bret Bielema was named head coach after last season, Horton chose to join Gus Malzahn’s Auburn staff. Saturday night, for the first time in his life, Horton coached against the Razorbacks. And he celebrated in the visitors’ locker room when Auburn won 35-17.
It was fitting that Tre Mason, another running back that Horton mentors, was the star of the game with 32 carries for 169 yards and four touchdowns.
“Anytime you go on the road, no matter who you are playing or where their program is, you are really pleased to win,” Horton said on the postgame radio show, “and we are really thrilled tonight.
“For me personally, it really didn’t sink in until after the game when I got a chance to see a lot of those kids you’ve recruited and been in their homes and things of that nature. I was just thrilled with the way we competed. It wasn’t perfect, but at the same time, we did what we had to do to win the game.”
Horton saluted Mason, who became the first Auburn player to score four touchdowns since Cam Newton against Kentucky in 2010. As Mason attacked the Arkansas defense, there was little playing time available for fellow tailbacks Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant.
“One of the things we have is three really quality running backs,” Horton said. “One of the things that was difficult tonight was that Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne didn’t get the carries. But it was hard to take Tre out. He wants to play so much. The most pleasing thing, obviously, was us taking care of the football. We won the turnover margin, and that was really the difference in the game.”
As the game wore on, Arkansas began to move defenders closer to the line of scrimmage. It didn’t matter.
“The credit needs to go first and foremost to the offensive line,” Horton said. “The disappointing thing was not being able to run the clock out the last two drives. We have some things we need to improve on, but when you can give the ball to Tre Mason 32 times and he can average over five yards per carry, that’s a good night.”
Horton said his return to Fayetteville wasn’t the big story of the night. The story, he said, was the Auburn players who won for the fifth consecutive time and moved to 8-1 on the season and 4-1 in the SEC.
“Arkansas is a team Auburn has struggled with,” Horton said. “To come on the road and win in a hostile environment was big for the Tigers.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: