Auburn’s Malzahn ‘hopeful’ RB Johnson will play vs Clemson
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn’s backfield might be short-handed for the second straight game, even with Kamryn Pettway’s return.
Coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday he’s ”hopeful” that tailback Kerryon Johnson will be able to play Saturday night at No. 3 Clemson, but noted that Johnson didn’t practice Sunday. The good news for Auburn: Pettway is back after being suspended for undisclosed reasons in the opener against Georgia Southern.
It didn’t matter much in that 41-7 victory , but the No. 13 Tigers would love to have both their top runners available against the defending national champions.
Malzahn declined to disclose the nature of Johnson’s injury, though the team’s radio broadcast reported it was a hamstring.
”We’re hopeful, but that’s probably the best status I can give you at this point,” Malzahn said. ”Later in the week, I’ll know more.”
Malzahn suspended Pettway, wide receiver Kyle Davis and backup quarterback Sean White for that game. White remains out against Clemson but the other two return.
The 6-foot, 235-pound Pettway was the surprise star of Auburn’s offense last season. A physical, between-the-tackles runner, he gained 1,224 yards in 10 games.
Pettway didn’t play in last season’s opening loss to Clemson before eventually emerging as the Tigers’ workhorse.
”It’s a good thing to have Kam Pettway back in the flow of things,” wide receiver Ryan Davis said. ”It also opens up more things and gives the opponent more things to worry about, so having Kam Pettway is always a good thing.”
Johnson was taking on the workhorse role when the injury ended his night in the second quarter. He already had 136 yards on 16 carries, including a 60-yard touchdown.
Johnson pulled up short in the open field as he appeared on his way to a second long touchdown run.
Sophomore Kam Martin got most of the carries after that and also finished with 136 yards.
If Johnson can’t go, Malzahn said both Martin and Malik Miller are in the mix to be the second-teamer.
Meanwhile, the backup quarterback situation remains an issue for at least one more game. Walk-on Devin Adams replaced new starter Jarrett Stidham once the Georgia Southern game was in hand.
Freshman Malik Willis could be the choice if pressed into action against Clemson. Willis, who played well in the spring game, could be in line for a redshirt season if he’s not needed.
”Sean is our No. 2 quarterback right now,” Malzahn said. ”We’ll just see where everything falls out with that.”
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