Running game takes big leap forward

Bryan Matthews, Senior Editor
Auburn Sports

AUBURN | No. 12 Auburn worked all week on improving its running game. And it showed Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Tigers totaled 326 rushing yards in a decisive 44-23 win over Ole Miss.

It’s the second-most rushing yards this season after gaining 351 in the opener against Georgia Southern.

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Robin Conn/AuburnSports.com

“I thought we did some good things today running the football,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Our goal every week is to rush for 200 yards and it looks like we rushed for 326 so I thought they did a better job.

“We’ve just got to keep improving in that area. Obviously if we can run the football effectively, our play-action and everything that goes with it, makes it a little easier.”

Kerryon Johnson led the charge with a career-high 204 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. The junior scored on runs of 17, 48 and 5 yards.

Johnson has 11 touchdowns in the last three games since returning from a hamstring injury..

“Kerryon Johnson is a warrior. I’m very proud of him,” Malzahn said. “He was probably close to 90 percent. I have a strong feeling he’ll get healthier and healthier as the season goes. We were smart with him this week. Just an impact player.”

Auburn averaged 6.4 yards per carry, which is also the second-best this season. The Tigers had 10 runs of 10 or more yards.

Kam Martin saw some early action finishing with 50 yards on nine carries. Eli Stove had two carries for 36 yards on end arounds and Malik Miller came in late to finish with 21 yards on eight carries.

Kamryn Pettway dressed out but didn’t play.

“Pettway, we held him out and we’re going to try to get him healthy,” Malzahn said. “The way we’ve been doing it is not working, letting him play a little bit and all that.”

No. 12 Auburn (5-1, 3-0 SEC) plays at LSU next Saturday.

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