Heading into a matchup in hostile territory against Ole Miss, Auburn’s running game, led by Tank Bigsby, will remain a focus.
The group as a whole, though, might be in the best position it has been all season.
While Tank Bigbsy continues to gash opposing defenses, the backs behind him are continuing to progress from injuries.
According to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, D.J. Williams, who battled a shoulder injury in fall camp and then a toe injury, is the closest to 100% he’s been since last season.
“So D.J.’s a guy that had a shoulder in fall camp. Then he had a toe right after that that’s kind of kept him from being 100%, really. And I think he was closer Saturday,” Malzahn said. “He had a good week of practice. Like I’ve said before, he’s a veteran guy that has been in the heat of the battle in some big games.”
The guy who began the year as a starter, Shaun Shivers, is also working his way back from an ankle injury that’s sidelined him over the last three games.
Shivers was inactive against Georgia and Arkansas but was in uniform and available to play against South Carolina.
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As one of the team captains, Malzahn knows getting him back will be big for the team.
“Shaun Shivers is one of our team leaders,” Malzahn said. “You talk about a guy that had a phenomenal fall camp and really had a really good first half against Kentucky and then got hurt. That’ll definitely help when he gets back. He’s in a great spot.”
And behind them is Mark-Antony Richards, who received his fair share of fall camp hype before also dealing with an injury of his own.
Richards redshirted in 2019 after undergoing surgery in fall camp but was expected to be ready to play this season.
He has yet to appear in a game on offense this season.
“And then I want to say, Mark-Anthony Richards, I think he had probably his best week of practice that he’s had since he’s been here,” Malzahn said. “He battled some injuries early, too. I think we’re starting to get healthier in the running back room.”
Leading them all is Bigsby, who continues to be a one-man wrecking crew at running back.
Against South Carolina, Bigsby rushed for 111 yards, marking his second-straight game with over 100 yards on the ground.
Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-highest graded rushers in all of college football with a 91.2, just behind Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert, who received a 92.2.
Bigsby was PFF’s highest-graded freshman running back.
Malzahn has been impressed with his back thus far.
“I mean, he looks like an Auburn running back to me. He’s running with great passion, and that’s a good thing,” Malzahn said. “That kind of fits to being able to run the football effectively. He’s broken tackles.”
Bigsby and the rest of the Auburn backs will take on Ole Miss on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. CST in Oxford, Mississippi. The game will be broadcasted on SEC Network.
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