Freshman running back Tank Bigsby and the Auburn rushing attack came alive in a 30-28 victory over Arkansas on Saturday.
The Tigers rushed for a season-high 259 total yards in a game played on a waterlogged Pat Dye Field.
Auburn may have found its next star at running back in Bigsby, who earned the start for the second consecutive week in place of the injured Shaun Shivers.
Bigsby finished the day with 146 total yards on 20 carries, both career-highs. It’s the most rushing yards by an Auburn player since Boobee Whitlow had 170 yards against Ole Miss on Oct. 20, 2018.
“Tank has been a huge weapon for us the past few weeks,” Auburn quarterback Bo Nix said. “The effort, the intensity, and playmaking ability is definitely there for him.”
While Bigsby showed his potential in the Georgia game, he unleashed it against Arkansas. The freshman ran through rain, mud, and at times, nearly everyone on the Arkansas defense.
The LaGrange, Georgia, native looked like a pinball in a pinball machine, bouncing off tacklers for long rushes multiple times.
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“He broke tackles,” Malzahn said. “He ran extremely hard, there were some hard yards. He bounced a couple out, he cut them back, ran some guys over, broke tackles, kept his legs moving and protected the football. I thought he did a good job.”
Bigsby had six rushes of 10-plus yards in the first half. Despite a career night, though, Bigsby still sees room for improvement.
“The game I played today, it was alright,” Bigsby said. “I could have done a lot of things better. You know, pressing, being more patient, working on getting in the endzone, and running the ball more physically. I’m just really glad we won.”
Bigsby was not the only running back who carried the rock for the Tigers.
Sophomore D.J. Williams also got his fair share of carries. Williams had the longest rush of the Tigers’ season late in the first quarter when he broke free for a 41-yard rush up the middle. He finished the evening with 71 yards on eight carries.
Compared to the Georgia game, the rushing offense looked more well-versed and similar to past Auburn offenses in the win.
Against the Bulldogs, the Tigers rushed for 39 yards the entire 60 minutes of play. It took the offense just two drives to match that total against the Razorbacks.
The difference came up front for the Tigers, where the offensive line was more assertive and created better gaps for the running game than last week.
“I thought they did a good job,” Malzahn said. “We talked all week about being balanced, and we have to be able to run the football. I think the offensive line really did a good job tonight.”
It was the most rushing yards by an Auburn team against an SEC opponent since they put up 293 rushing yards against Arkansas last season.
Auburn totaled 215 rushing yards in the first half and only 44 in the second half. Malzahn said the weather did play a factor in running the ball more in the first half, as the heavy rain hit during the first 30 minutes of play.
“Early on, we tried to throw a couple things on the perimeter,” Malzahn said. “The ball was not quite good.”
Auburn improves to 2-1 on the season with the win over the Razorbacks. The Tigers will leave the confines of Jordan-Hare and head to South Carolina next.
“We have an opportunity to get a little bit better each week,” Malzahn said. “We can be that team that gets a little bit better each week...that’s our goal."
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