Following a win over top-ranked Georgia, Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson evoked the names of Barry Sanders and Mark Ingram into the Tigers’ coaching staff.
Offensive and defensive coordinators Chip Lindsey and Kevin Steele, respectively, spoke to the media Sunday night to review Auburn’s recent victory.
A common thread of praise ran through the team’s star running back.
“The great ones have an ability: They’ve got great vision,” Steele said. “The one thing they all have in common is vision, and that’s what he’s got.”
Johnson currently leads the SEC in rushing with 1,035 yards and 15 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the nation. He finished the game with 167 yards on 32 carries against the No. 3 defense, and was the first running back this season to rush for more than 100 yards against the Bulldogs.
“Since I’ve been here, he’s really smart and he’s really intelligent,” Lindsey said. “I think he’s a complete running back. I’m glad he’s on our team.
“I think he makes everyone associated with Auburn proud.”
In addition to Johnson’s success this season, both the offensive line and, notably, wide receiver Ryan Davis have impressed, he said.
“The thing about [Davis] is he catches the ball with his feet on the ground and he keeps on moving,” he said. “He’s definitely one of our best playmakers.”
Davis finished the game with four catches for 55 yards including a 32-yard touchdown to make the score 30-7.
The offensive line, Lindsey said, has been playing off the success of Marquel Harrell.
“I’ve been really pleased with him,” Lindsey said. “I think he’s one of those bright young players who’s ready to take that next step.”
In contrast, Auburn’s defensive line was able to take advantage of the Bulldog line, holding the nation’s eighth-best rushing attack to just 46 total yards.
Prior to a matchup at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Georgia averaged 279.3 yards per game with running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
That kind of effort, Steele said, was worthy of the dance moves that ensued in the fourth quarter.
“The big thing is energy and enthusiasm is great in football,” he said. “Now you can’t get so involved that you lose your edge. Because you’re not at the club, you’ve got to go back out there and play.”
Another thing that brought the team together, Steele said, was the common identity that each player had built with each other from spring training.
“I think our guys know their own identity,” he said. “Everybody shows up at the stadium and is disappoint when anyone gains a yard.”
While Steele knew early on that dominance could become a normality, injuries affected early season play.
Now, with linebacker Tray Matthews making a definitive return with a tackle for loss in the Tigers’ win, Steele believes his team knows the task at hand and the confidence required to be successful.
“You know when you’re doing your job, and you know when you’re affecting things in a positive way,” Steele said. “That gives you confidence, and that breeds confidence.”
Prior to a matchup with another top-ranked Alabama at home, Auburn hosts the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Even with a shot at the SEC Championship coming in two weeks, Lindsey says he is more focused on taking on the Warhawks than preparing for the Crimson Tide.
“We’re focused on Louisiana-Monroe,” he said. “It’s what you have to do.”