Peyton Barber has kept Auburn on the run this season
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Peyton Barber is tantalizingly close to becoming the third different Auburn running back to rush for more than a 1,000 yards in three straight seasons, and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee can't wait for him to do it.
Barber enters Saturday's 3 p.m. game against Idaho with 900 yards, and that puts him on track to follow Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne into Auburn's most recent 1,000-yard club.
Barber would be Gus Malzahn's 13th 1,000-yard rusher in his 10 years as a college head coach or offensive coordinator. He's be the seventh 1,000-yard rusher for running backs coach Tim Horton since 2007.
"There’s not a better kid on our team, not a kid that deserves it or want it to happen for more than him," Lashlee said. "Peyton is such a harder worker, doesn’t complain, he’s quiet, just goes about his business.
"A lot of times when we needed someone to step up, he’s done it. It would be neat to see him finish with 1,000 yards this year, and, if that happens, it is probably a good thing for us winning games too."
Barber is the only running back in the FBS to rush for four touchdowns in a game twice this season. He rushed for 11 touchdowns in consecutive games against San Jose State, Kentucky and Arkansas, and that's tied for the best three-game streak in the nation this season.
Barber was slowed with an injury against Ole Miss and Texas A&M, but he came back to rush for 72 yards on 13 carries last week against Georgia last week. Jovon Robinson rushed for 93 yards on 12 carries, and that was after rushing for 159 yards the week before against Texas A&M.
Despite all of that, Lashlee says there's work to be done, and even this week because quarterback Sean White, center Austin Golson and offenisve tackle Shon Coleman are dealing with injuries. Auburn has already started 21 different players on offense in an uneven offensive year.
"I think it falls on all of us," Lashlee said. "Obviously, me being the offensive coordinator, we got other coaches, we do this as a group. We’re a team.
"The hardest thing as a coach is when your kids play hard and they fight and we don’t get it done. You always look at yourself and ask 'what could we have done better to help our guys?' This was a hard one. It hurt. It hurt our kids. Hurt our coaches.
"There's been a lot of close, frustrating disappointments. It stings for a day or two, you come back and they've really competed and practiced hard and come back and played hard every game. They've fought and they've stayed together and it's hard to do that over the long haul in this league, especially when you can't quite break through at certain times."
Win or lose, Lashlee said it'll be business as usual.
"I don't think it’s been harder. We work hard regardless because if you are winning, the stakes get higher. If you are struggling, you really are working as hard as you can to fix it, right the ship. It's been about the same.
"The workload probably isn't any different, we just have to find a way to have a breakthrough."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine