Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway is out indefinitely after fracturing his scapula in the Tiger’s win at Arkansas, head coach Gus Malzahn announced Tuesday morning.
Malzahn expects Pettway to return prior to the end of the season, but did not offer a timetable for his return. The injury will not require surgery.
“He's a competitor, and it’s a tough blow to him,” Malzahn said. "He's had a lot of injuries. But you've got to deal with it and he'll respond OK."
The coaching staff noticed that Pettway was dealing with shoulder pain last Tuesday that did not go away by the end of the week. Malzahn noted that, despite Pettway’s success in the previous week’s victory, the running back was still not at 100 percent.
Pettway had 11 carries for 90 yards and three touchdowns in his return from injury in a 52-20 win over the Razorbacks. For the season, Pettway has 305 yards and six touchdowns despite playing just four games.
The Prattville, Alabama native led Auburn in rushing during the 2016 season with 1,224 yards while leading the SEC in rushing yards per game in addition to seven touchdowns.
Injuries, accompanied with the success of Kerryon Johnson, have kept Pettway off the field and has allowed running backs Martin and Devan Barrett to have increased carries.
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“The positive is that [Johnson] is one of the best running backs in our league and you see the confidence he is playing at right now,” Malzahn said. “We have other guys we feel good about, too, that are going to be big down the stretch right now.”
Sophomore Kam Martin is expected to take over Pettway’s position on the depth chart starting Saturday at Texas A&M, Malzahn said.
Martin is currently third on the team in rushing with 264 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for a career-high 136 yards on 14 carries in Auburn’s season-opening win over Georgia Southern.
Despite Pettway’s absence, Auburn is expecting to return all other players in preparation for the Aggies.
Auburn hopes to continue the series’ road team success, with the road team winning each matchup since Texas A&M joined the SEC. The Tigers lost at home to the Aggies 29-16 last season.
“I think everyone practiced Sunday,” Malzahn said. “You could sense on Sunday that last week was really good for the freshmen. Everyone was really energetic and ready to get back out there and practice.”
Offensive linemen Mike Horton and Darius James are expected to return to protect quarterback Jarrett Stidham, while linebacker Tray Matthews will return to the nation’s 13th best defense.
Malzahn said that his coaching staff will be placing an emphasis on improving special teams play in advance of Texas A&M returner Christian Kirk. The athleticism and size of the Aggie defense, he said, will also pose difficulties.
“We look at everything personnel-wise and scheme-wise,” he said. “Obviously, when you throw in [Kirk], that makes it even more relevant -- whether it is scheme, tendencies, or personnel, which a lot of times it is a little of all three.”
The head coach added that, despite lack of experience, the team will continue to rely on freshmen on special teams.
“We had a very good off week,” he said. “I think we accomplished what we set out to as far as getting fresh, as far as getting better and the details. We’re looking forward to going to Texas A&M.”
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