By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn's Kerryon Johnson is happy to see his offense healthy again, full of energy and ready to go in the Sugar Bowl.
Johnson says practices for the Jan. 2 game against Oklahoma have been going well, and that he, fellow running back Kamryn Pettway and quarterback Sean White are a picture of good health; and that, yes, he still has his sights on a 1,000-yard season.
He needs 119 yards to join Pettway in reaching that milestone this season.
"But my goal is winning. It would be nice to have two of them, but if we don't win the game, it doesn't mean much," Johnson said.
If not this year, then next year for sure. Johnson said Monday he's glad Pettway announced he's coming back next season rather than turning pro.
"I was extremely happy," Johnson said. "I don't really pay attention to recruiting, but I don't think we have a lot of guys coming in at the running back position, so just to have the experience back and not really start over as we did this past year, it's tremendous.
"I'm looking forward to getting it going with him again next year."
Johnson said a twin-1,000-yard season is possible "if we have a full, healthy season."
"It's going to be hard to beat him and me as a 1-2 punch in the SEC and the country. Full healthy, it's scary to think about."
Johnson was slowed during the season with a lingering ankle injury, Pettway missed games with a sore quad and White was knocked out with a shoulder injury. When they were at their best, Auburn won six straight games on the way to an 8-4 record. When Pettway didn't get a carry, Auburn was 2-2. When White didn't play, Auburn was 1-1.
Now, the team's together again.
"It almost feels like a new team," Johnson said. "We were kind of drained out, and now it's like we have new guys in there really. When you operate at 100 percent, your explosion is better, everything is better. Your energy is up. We've been doing really well. You can definitely tell having those guys back has really helped.
"We had two really long ones back-to-back, and I think we had really, really productive days. We've been having a lot of energy. I think the break we had after the last game has really gotten us reenergized and refocused, and we've executed at a high level."
Auburn's Sugar Bowl practices have been 'really, really productive,' says Kerryon Johnson. Video pic.twitter.com/0CN39NEt4R
-- Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) December 19, 2016
Johnson said White has "looked like the weeks before he got injured. Excellent thrower. Smart guy. Leadership has been on point as always. He really looks like the guy we came into the season with, looking up to, and who played the majority of the season."
Johnson said it's time to finish the season on a winning note.
"Oklahoma has been a great program for years," he said "They just came off a good season this year, had a good season last year. They beat Alabama here recently. They have a chance to finish with 11 wins and we have a chance to finish with nine and maybe a Top 10 finish heading into the offseason. That's a lot on the line. We go to Birmingham Bowl last year to the Sugar Bowl this year. There's a lot riding on this game for us. It's about motivation."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine