Dec. 31, 2013
QB talk: Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has advice for Jonathan Wallace, left, Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson in Auburn's final on-campus practice Monday (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven of Auburn's last eight games.
But he saved his very best in the Tigers' last game.
Auburn turned Mason into a workhorse in the SEC Championship Game when he rushed 46 times for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Missouri, and will look to him again when the Tigers meet Florida State in the BCS title game in Pasadena next Monday.
That's hardly a secret. Auburn announced its intentions to be a running team early on, nothing has changed, and nobody can seem to do anything about it.
Mason has 1,621 yards rushing and a school-record 22 rushing TDs.
Auburn was set to fly to California on Tuesday morning to begin work at UC-Irvine on Wednesday.
By next Monday, Florida State will pay attention to this when Auburn has the ball...
Tre Mason leads the SEC in rushing and those 22 rushing touchdowns are the most by a running back in SEC history. He did most of his good work when it mattered the most, rushing for 1,289 yards and 17 touchdowns in SEC games.
Nick Marshall is a quarterback. But his ability to run the zone-read has helped him to running back-like rushing stats. He has 1,162 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing. His best rushing game was against Tennessee when he had 214 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. Marshall and Mason are only the third Auburn combo to each rush for a 1,000 yards in the same season, joining the 1979 tandem of James Brooks and Joe Cribbs and the 2010 tandem of Cam Newton and Mike Dyer.
If you blinked you may have missed Corey Grant's 664 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He's fast. He rushed for 146 yards in the opener against Washington State. Grant, who had just nine carries in 2012, excelled when finally given a serious chance.
Cameron Artis-Payne waited for his turn behind Mason. He has 613 yards and six touchdowns, including a season-high 133 yards against Western Carolina.
Nick Marshall was limited by his own ability to run. And Tre Mason's ability to run. And the offensive line's ability to block. Still, Marshall has hit 128-of-212 passes for 1,759 yards and 12 touchdowns. And, more importantly, he helped Auburn's offense to three last-minute wins, including a big game when he hit 23-of-34 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns to beat Mississippi State.
Jeremy Johnson looked sharp when he hit 17-of-21 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Western Carolina. But he was limited to a few plays here and there in the second half of the season. He's hit 29-of-41 passes for 422 yards and six touchdowns.
Auburn isn't the most pass-happy team around, but receiver Sammie Coates has made the most of his opportunities. He has 38 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns, and is second in the nation in yards per catch.
Ricardo Louis has the catch of the season -- the one that beat Georgia as time wound down -- and his second on the team with 26 catches for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Marcus Davis is next with 22 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown, but has caught a pass in just one of Auburn's last five games. Quan Bray matches those 191 yards, on 20 catches, with three touchdowns.
Defense? Here's an earlier look at Auburn's statistical leaders.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: