Unlike many of its SEC counterparts, Auburn has been set on its starting quarterback (Jeremy Johnson) for awhile. The running back position, however, is a different scenario.
It’s a three-way battle for the starting gig between junior-college transfer Jovon Robinson, along with sophomores Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has an interesting approach to the situation: He will likely wait until the third game of the season before determining a winner, Malzahn told Al.com’s Brandon Marcello. That third game is a road matchup on Sept. 19 against LSU.
“I think that would be the plan that you would really like,” Malzahn told the website. “We’re just going to let it happen. We’re going to see how everything works out. That would be nice.”
Until one of the running backs emerges from the pack, all three could see action in Auburn’s first two games, including the Sept. 5 opener against Louisville in the Georgia Dome. That will provide a better test than Week 2 FCS-opponent Jacksonville State.
While you would like to have one of the running backs win the job outright, it may be beneficial to use multiple running backs in Auburn’s fast-paced offense. This will allow Auburn to keep the backs fresh and dictate tempo.
It has worked for Auburn in the past, most notably in the 2013 season, when Tre Mason and Cameron-Artis Payne both received carries until Mason took control against LSU in Week 4 and helped Auburn reach the National Championship.
The next few weeks will determine if Robinson, Thomas, or Barber could be this season’s Tre Mason.