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gr82be

Starting running back today per Horton

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Auburn identifies frontrunner for starting running back job

Updated 6:59 PM;Posted 6:48 PM

By Tom Green

The picture in Auburn's backfield is becoming somewhat more clear.

The Tigers, who entered spring with five scholarship running backs competing for the starting job, haven't quite narrowed down the competition as offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey had hoped to at the end of spring, but there is a leader in the clubhouse as the Tigers head into the offseason.

"If we were to play today it would be Kam Martin," Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton said Thursday before speaking to the Jackson County Auburn Club in Scottsboro. "He would be the first one to go out on the field. Obviously we don't play today and so is he going to start against Washington? That kinda remains to be seen but Kam would be first-team if we played today."

Lindsey said last month that the hope was for the Tigers to establish a pecking order at running back upon the completion of spring practices. Following review of the A-Day game on April 7 and the final practice of spring on April 10, Horton wasn't ready to rattle off a top three and left open the possibility for the Tigers to take a by-committee approach to the position this fall.

The veteran assistant was also hesitant to name a No. 2 running back behind Martin at this time, adding that he has been "really pleased" with the entire group, which includes Martin, Malik Miller, JaTarvious Whitlow, Asa Martin, Devan Barrett and even walk-on C.J. Tolbert, who was the A-Day offensive MVP.

"If we had to play today it would probably be situational football," Horton said. "There's one guy that's probably a better pass protector. There's one guy who is probably a better runner. There's one guy who might be a better pass receiver out of the backfield. It would be very situational in the sense that whatever the down and the distance and the situation dictates." 

Martin was long expected to be in the mix for the starting job following the departures of Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway. The junior is Auburn's most experienced running back, having rushed for 773 yards and five touchdowns in a backup role over the last two seasons.

The 5-foot-10, 182-pounder was Auburn's second-leading rusher last season, finishing the year with 453 yards and a pair of touchdowns while averaging an impressive 6.12 yards per carry. Martin saw plenty of time with the first-team offense this spring but was held out of the spring game due to a minor hamstring injury. 

Horton said Thursday that if it were the regular season, Martin probably would have missed the opener but would have been available by Week 2 or Week 3. Martin has been a full participant in the team's offseason workouts, which began this week.

Whitlow was perhaps the Tigers' most impressive running back behind closed doors this spring. The redshirt freshman out of LaFayette received rave reviews from teammates, who compared watching him run to watching "Madden" video game highlights due to his ability to reverse field and keep plays alive.

The 6-foot, 216-pound Whitlow is built more in line with the type of running back Auburn has relied on in years past under Malzahn, and the former three-star prospect -- who played quarterback in high school and signed with Auburn as a receiver -- excelled on A-Day. He rushed for 98 yards on 14 carries while displaying solid vision and elusiveness in the open field.

Miller is Auburn's second-most experienced running back, with 50 career carries for 204 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was lauded as a "steady force" in the backfield by Lindsey this spring, and he started with the first-team offense on A-Day. His spring game was cut short due to a knee injury after recording just three carries for 1 yard and a fumble. 

Asa Martin is a true freshman who enrolled early this semester after winning Alabama's Mr. Football award as a senior in high school, and Barrett saw the field in a limited capacity last season and split time at running back and receiver late in the spring.

Auburn is looking for five criteria in evaluating its running back situation, according to Horton.

"Can they protect the ball? Can they protect the passer? Are they going to miss assignments; do they know what to do? No. 4: Attitude, effort and body language; how do they present it? And then the last thing, and really the most important thing, at least in this competition for me is who can make a play? Who can go make the play?" Horton said. "That's where, hopefully, we'll continue to find guys who can create separation and make more plays, but that's kind of what we're looking for. Each one of them have done those things, but at this point I think Kam would be the first one."

Horton would feel comfortable playing multiple running backs this season and wouldn't be surprised if it took a couple of games to establish a No. 1 option in the backfield.

"We've had success playing multiple players but sometimes the cream rises to the top and one just kinda separates themselves," Horton said. "That's really what's happened the last two years."

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Big story about nothing.....Green must have had space to fill.....Kmart might start if the season started today but since it does not start for 4 months it could be someone else.  What a scoop...

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Meh.. Means nothing until Fall.

Good for him though.

Edited by Randman5000
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4 hours ago, Randman5000 said:

Meh.. Means nothing until Fall.

Good for him though.

Yep, it's not so much to me who starts but who finishes that will matter. I figure Gus will go with what's familiar to him. Just hope he'll make a switch if he needs to. 

Edited by gr82be

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1 hour ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

They say this now until Gus sees the size of Washington's DL and gives him one carry per quarter 

The LSU game last year clearly showed nothing scares Malzahn away from running the ball

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I love Kam Martin, but he does NOT need to be a starter. Joiner needs his shot. (No one needs to comment on how he came here to play TE or HB. Joiner did NOT come to Auburn to not have a chance at RB.)

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15 minutes ago, logan adams said:

I love Kam Martin, but he does NOT need to be a starter. Joiner needs his shot. (No one needs to comment on how he came here to play TE or HB. Joiner did NOT come to Auburn to not have a chance at RB.)

Agree .....KM is a good kid and a good football player (role player)  but if he is our best running back come time for the season to start, it's gonna be a long year for JS because nobody will respect our running game. 

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35 minutes ago, logan adams said:

I love Kam Martin, but he does NOT need to be a starter. Joiner needs his shot. (No one needs to comment on how he came here to play TE or HB. Joiner did NOT come to Auburn to not have a chance at RB.)

As @AU64 said, with this many RBs on scholarship and the best one we have is a true FR who wasn't here in spring, then we are in for a rough year!

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16 minutes ago, LKEEL75 said:

As @AU64 said, with this many RBs on scholarship and the best one we have is a true FR who wasn't here in spring, then we are in for a rough year!

We've had a few true freshmen come in and carry the load.....happens all the time in college football. ..

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1 hour ago, logan adams said:

I love Kam Martin, but he does NOT need to be a starter. Joiner needs his shot. (No one needs to comment on how he came here to play TE or HB. Joiner did NOT come to Auburn to not have a chance at RB.)

 

44 minutes ago, AU64 said:

Agree .....KM is a good kid and a good football player (role player)  but if he is our best running back come time for the season to start, it's gonna be a long year for JS because nobody will respect our running game. 

You guys are something else. Wow. 

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6 minutes ago, McLoofus said:

 

You guys are something else. Wow. 

Only wanting the best for Auburn....and don't think I have to have to get your approval for my opinions.     But, still thinking we have some better RB candidates for the starting role...JMO

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I think people are selling KMart short. I realize he’s had some mop up duty, but he’s averaging almost 7 yards a carry over 2 seasons. Regarding his ability to carry the load, the kid is from Houston where the players are darn tough football players, regardless of their size. If he earns the starting job, kudos to him and I bet he will surprise a lot of us. 

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2 minutes ago, Gowebb11 said:

I think people are selling KMart short. I realize he’s had some mop up duty, but he’s averaging almost 7 yards a carry over 2 seasons. Regarding his ability to carry the load, the kid is from Houston where the players are darn tough football players, regardless of their size. If he earns the starting job, kudos to him and I bet he will surprise a lot of us. 

Size Queen U

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This is the sort of story that runs during Baseball season.

Sorta like my posts.  ....just useless ramblings of a bored mind.

:beer2:

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3 minutes ago, AUsince72 said:

This is the sort of story that runs during Baseball season.

Sorta like my posts.  ....just useless ramblings of a bored mind.

:beer2:

Your bored ramblings are WAY more interesting than baseball. #controversy #hottake

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Kam is a rock star running back who needs to learn to protect the QB on pass plays. That's not like saying he needs to grow a 3rd arm, it's something he can totally do and may already have done. If that is the case, the idea of him starting is the opposite of a bad thing.

At the same time, I'm in full agreement that "the most senior running back on the roster is the current starter" story is 100% space filler.

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 horton said it's situational...

As of now it's

KMart - runner

Miller - pass blocker

Barrett - pass catcher

Whitlow - would get more carries then Miller/Barrett

Asa - Would get more carries then Miller/Barrett if anyone were to get hurt.  I think they are really going to try to make him a special teams warrior this year.  

 

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4 minutes ago, corchjay said:

 horton said it's situational...

As of now it's

KMart - runner

Miller - pass blocker

Barrett - pass catcher

Whitlow - would get more carries then Miller/Barrett

Asa - Would get more carries then Miller/Barrett if anyone were to get hurt.  I think they are really going to try to make him a special teams warrior this year.  

 

Sounds about right to me.....so is there an all around back who can run effectively and  pass block with reasonable success to keep JS from getting beat up beyond repair?    What do you give up to find that person?    

Don't think the offense is gonna fool anyone if we  have to substitute backs in and out according to their ability to protect the QB. Even if a couple of RBs share the job,  we can't establish any tendencies that tell the D what's likely to be coming. 

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8 minutes ago, AU64 said:

Sounds about right to me.....so is there an all around back who can run effectively and  pass block with reasonable success to keep JS from getting beat up beyond repair?    What do you give up to find that person?    

Don't think the offense is gonna fool anyone if we  have to substitute backs in and out according to their ability to protect the QB. Even if a couple of RBs share the job,  we can't establish any tendencies that tell the D what's likely to be coming. 

I'm not saying there isn't one.  Just isn't settled yet.  Plus I think they hope KMart continues to improve his pass blocking and Whitlow continues to develop.  Horton did report that KMart is at 195 now but that sounds a little bit of a stretch to me.  

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The potential for Gus to telegraph what the called play is based on what RB is in the game is way too high for my comfort right now.

Also surprised at how many people are down on Kam Martin. I think he can be really good if he improves his pass protection.

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3 minutes ago, Tiger said:

The potential for Gus to telegraph what the called play is based on what RB is in the game is way too high for my comfort right now.

Also surprised at how many people are down on Kam Martin. I think he can be really good if he improves his pass protection.

If it makes you feel any better, we telegraph the plays even when we have the same all-purpose back in on every snap of the game.

Wait. I don't think that made you feel better. Bruh that's my bad.

Edited by McLoofus
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2 hours ago, AU64 said:

Agree .....KM is a good kid and a good football player (role player)  but if he is our best running back come time for the season to start, it's gonna be a long year for JS because nobody will respect our running game. 

Come on man. That is terrible . 

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3 hours ago, logan adams said:

I love Kam Martin, but he does NOT need to be a starter. Joiner needs his shot. (No one needs to comment on how he came here to play TE or HB. Joiner did NOT come to Auburn to not have a chance at RB.)

Joiner needs to EARN his shot. You think he is just going to get on campus and become the boss man? And based on his highlight tape, he better get a lot more physical.

Edited by DAG
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