ARLINGTON, Texas — One of Auburn's significant critiques in 2018 was on its running game and offensive line. Auburn snapped a nine-year streak of having a 1,000-yard rusher in 2018 and is looking to get back to that in 2019.
The Tigers are on the right track following No. 16 Auburn's 27-21 win over No. 11 Oregon. Sophomore running back Boobee Whitlow finished as the team's leading rusher in 2018 with 787 yards in 13 games, including three games with 100-plus rushing yards.
Saturday night against Oregon, Whitlow and the offensive line's goal to produce another 1,000-yard rusher began strong.
Whitlow and the O-line struggled in the first half, generating 32 rushing yards on nine attempts, but the offensive line, according to head coach Gus Malzahn, remained determined to get the run going in the second half.
"We got a senior offensive line," Malzahn said. "They told me at halftime, 'Coach, let's run the football. Let's try to run over them. We're ready.' Literally, that was our mindset. We felt like we needed to.
"We had a couple of turnovers, that turnover in the red zone. We got down to the 3-yard line, I called a bad play on first down, and we ended up having to kick a field goal. Really proud of our offensive line and really Boobee (JaTarvious) Whitlow — he ran hard inside. He had a really good night running the football against a good defense."
Establishing the run in the second half is just what Auburn did. Whitlow carried the ball 15 times in the second half with 78 rushing yards. Whitlow finished the game on 24 attempts for 110 yards for his fourth career 100-yard rushing game.
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Whitlow made sure postgame to credit the offensive line for his success running the ball, and noted that this season, the offensive line is looking to put the past mistakes behind them.
"They just let me know that they play with a chip on their shoulder," Whitlow said. "Like, all the talk they were doing last year, and they came out there and did what they did, that should tell the world a lot. We've got monsters up here. Y'all ain't even seen them for real yet. That was just for a game. We've got, what, 11 more? Yeah, 11 more. Yeah. Thought I was counting it wrong."
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