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Narrowing RB competition

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Auburn Football

Aarrow runuburn aims to nning back competition to top 3 by end of spring

Updated Mar 29, 7:57 PM; Posted Mar 29, 8:00 PM

Auburn running back Kam Martin (9) runs the ball Tuesday, March 6, 2018, during spring practice at the Auburn Athletic Complex in Auburn, Ala. Martin is one of five players vying for the Tigers' starting running back job this spring. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)(Julie Bennett)

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By Tom Green

tgreen@al.com

Auburn's running back competition won't be settled by the end of spring, but offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey hopes to have the field narrowed down entering the summer.

While five players are battling for the starting job as Auburn aims to replace Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway, that number will be pared down considerably after A-Day.

"I think you are going to try to have at least two or three guys who have maybe separated themselves," Lindsey said. "You would like to have a one or two and all of that. I don't know if we get to that. We might, but I think, at least, when you are trying to rep five or six guys you would like for at least some separation in there and try to get your top three guys. I think that is probably what we will aim for."

Kam Martin, Malik Miller, JaTarvious Whitlow, Devan Barrett and Asa Martin have all been competing for the No. 1 job in the Tigers' backfield, and each one has rotated with the various personnel groupings through nine practices.

All five received between five and 10 carries during Auburn's first scrimmage last weekend, and while Whitlow stole the show with his highlight-worthy touchdown run, all of the backs have maintained a rotation in practice this week, according to Lindsey.

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"Overall, like I have told you before, I think that group is a talented group," Lindsey said. "We have just got to figure out what combination we are going to play with. We are not going to play all of them at once probably."

Watching JaTarvious Whitlow reminds Auburn teammate of 'Friday Night Lights,' playing 'Madden'

JaTarvious Whitlow broke off a 70-yard touchdown run during Auburn's first spring scrimmage.

Kam Martin is the Tigers' most experienced returning running back, having rushed for 453 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season, while Barrett and Miller also have limited in-game experience. Whitlow redshirted last season due to an ankle injury but has impressed in practice since his return late in the year, and Asa Martin is an early enrollee who is the reigning Alabama Mr. Football.

"Kam and Malik our guy two veteran guys -- I say veteran guys who have played the most," Lindsey said. "Those guys have done a nice job. I think they are continuing to improve. You kind of got, as a coach and maybe the quarterback, some confidence in them because they have played. I think those guys are continuing to grow.

"I think Boobee Whitlow is continuing to get better and better and better. He is a young guy that needs some reps. Barrett has looked good at times. Asa Martin has some natural instincts running between the tackles so I really like what he can do."

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Of course, the one trait that will truly impact who rises to the top and makes that cut heading into the spring is pass protection. That's something Gus Malzahn has stated before, and Lindsey reiterated following Thursday's practice.

"It will come down to who you trust the most in pass protection, which is huge for me from the coordinator's seat, that we have guys we trust who will block the right people," Lindsey said. "A lot of times for young backs, I think it is more about playing without the ball than with the ball. When you hand them the ball they are pretty good. When they run routes and have to protect and understand the coverages and the fronts, sometimes it takes a while, but I like their progress."

Watch Asa Martin and the Auburn running backs during the first spring practice of 2018

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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Dear Asa Martin,

Please help me not miss KJ so much...because I’m still really sad that I won’t get to watch him on Saturdays this year. 

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Very pleased to hear good things about KMart and Miller.

I was worried after last season that KMart just wasn't ever going to feature in the mix. I'm still confused how he can be RB1 in spring but he was barely allowed to play in a game where we desperately needed an RB less than 4 months ago. Whatevs, as long as he's getting a shot now. 

I had a feeling that Miller just hadn't made it all the way back from his injury the previous season. It seems like maybe those same ~4 months 'away from the field' have been good for him. Maybe getting back out from under Kerryon's shadow has been, too. 

Have pretty much had Whitlow penciled in since December. Have pretty much had Barrett penciled out since then, too. But if I was wrong about KMart, then hopefully I'm wrong about him, too.

Totally believe the hype on AMart but he's young and he's got some serious talent and experience in front of him. Patience will serve him and his fans well, I think.

We ain't forgot about you, either, Mr. Shivers. 

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4 minutes ago, McLoofus said:

Very pleased to hear good things about KMart and Miller.

I was worried after last season that KMart just wasn't ever going to feature in the mix. I'm still confused how he can be RB1 in spring but he was barely allowed to play in a game where we desperately needed an RB less than 4 months ago. Whatevs, as long as he's getting a shot now. 

I had a feeling that Miller just hadn't made it all the way back from his injury the previous season. It seems like maybe those same ~4 months 'away from the field' have been good for him. Maybe getting back out from under Kerryon's shadow has been, too. 

Have pretty much had Whitlow penciled in since December. Have pretty much had Barrett penciled out since then, too. But if I was wrong about KMart, then hopefully I'm wrong about him, too.

Totally believe the hype on AMart but he's young and he's got some serious talent and experience in front of him. Patience will serve him and his fans well, I think.

We ain't forgot about you, either, Mr. Shivers. 

the sports writers never say it any more but i remember when we used to be called running back U. as an aside they got a james brooks for fifteen bucks i am thinking of purchasing...........

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Just now, aubiefifty said:

the sports writers never say it any more but i remember when we used to be called running back U. as an aside they got a james brooks for fifteen bucks i am thinking of purchasing...........

Image result for john hurt spaceballs gif

Just kidding. But there was a spirited debated about this recently. 

After a several top-heavy seasons and one noticeable departure of a guy who could have rewritten the record books, I think we have the most complete group we've had in awhile. Could be fun if other pieces of the offense force defenses to be honest. 

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Not sure how I feel about Gus "narrowing down" the RB field.  Next thing you know there's only 1 Back getting 98% of the carries, even with a broken arm, hurt leg and mononucleosis.

He should be EXPANDING the RB choices.

I kid, I kid...sorta...

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2 minutes ago, AUsince72 said:

Not sure how I feel about Gus "narrowing down" the RB field.  Next thing you know there's only 1 Back getting 98% of the carries, even with a broken arm, hurt leg and mononucleosis.

He should be EXPANDING the RB choices.

I kid, I kid...sorta...

Hah! Freakin' Gus and his mono backs. Bein' all weak and lethargic. 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

I trust absolutely nothing coming from coaches about running backs. Zero. 

I know you SAY his name is Kam Martin, but what's his REAL name?

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4 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I know you SAY his name is Kam Martin, but what's his REAL name?

Hahaha 

 

 

 

But seriously

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55 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I know you SAY his name is Kam Martin, but what's his REAL name?

 

50 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

Hahaha 

 

 

 

But seriously

:Sing:

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How are they narrowing it down before people like Joiner even get on the squad? I think Joiner can be an absolute monster once muscle is put on. 

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2 hours ago, logan adams said:

How are they narrowing it down before people like Joiner even get on the squad? I think Joiner can be an absolute monster once muscle is put on. 

Joiner is more likely to play a slot/TE/hback position. And more muscle isn't his primary need. At least according to everything said/written about him. 

And why would you wait until the freshmen arrive to see who the best guys are *now*? They're not closing any doors. The young guys will get their chance, but they'll have to steal their seat at the table and that's how it should be.

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Personally I like the quote "We are not going to play all of them at once probably"

 

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Sounds like Kmart, Malik, and Whitlow if I’m reading this article face value.  Sounds like Devan and Asa still have some wrinkles to iron out.  I really though Barrett would jump Malik this spring.  Maybe Malik is coming on later in his career like Barber did in 2015.  

Edited by Win4AU

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17 hours ago, Win4AU said:

Sounds like Kmart, Malik, and Whitlow if I’m reading this article face value.  Sounds like Devan and Asa still have some wrinkles to iron out.  I really though Barrett would jump Malik this spring.  Maybe Malik is coming on later in his career like Barber did in 2015.  

With MM, a lot of it is improved blocking and knowledge of the offense. Something we will need badly with a revamped offensive line of scrimmage!

Edited by toddc
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5 minutes ago, toddc said:

With MW a lot of it is improved blocking and knowledge of the offense. Something we will need badly with a revamped offensive line of scrimmage!

MW?

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33 minutes ago, alexava said:

MW?

Yeah, you know, Malik Willis the QB that is not in the RB competition.

i just cracked myself up!

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Malik Miller! Sorry

geez, one wrong letter and you get skewered on here! 😂 lol

Edited by toddc
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On 3/31/2018 at 7:40 AM, McLoofus said:

Joiner is more likely to play a slot/TE/hback position. And more muscle isn't his primary need. At least according to everything said/written about him. 

And why would you wait until the freshmen arrive to see who the best guys are *now*? They're not closing any doors. The young guys will get their chance, but they'll have to steal their seat at the table and that's how it should be.

I just don't see why Joiner would come to Auburn if his primary position wasn't going to be RB....

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6 minutes ago, logan adams said:

I just don't see why Joiner would come to Auburn if his primary position wasn't going to be RB....

Because no schools on his list saw him that way.

How much do you know about him other than his metrics?

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After watching the game Saturday, I think Whitlow looks the part more than anybody else. I never thought Kmart looked the part.

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36 minutes ago, ArgoEagle said:

After watching the game Saturday, I think Whitlow looks the part more than anybody else. I never thought Kmart looked the part.

Kam needs 10 touches spread across the game. He can pop a hole and go the distance. Which means we’ll probably waste him.

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23 minutes ago, TexasTiger said:

Kam needs 10 touches spread across the game. He can pop a hole and go the distance. Which means we’ll probably waste him.

So far, we have no reason to believe otherwise. SMDH

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