Peyton Barber (above) has rushed for 558 yards this season.
Auburn, Ala.--“We’re not a big stats machine right now,”Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said after his football team’s Sunday night practice. “I don’t think that’s a big secret to anybody else, but what we did yesterday was finish drives better in the red zone.”
The main creator of the red zone success in a 35-21 victory over San Jose State was sophomore running back Peyton Barber, who personally accounted for all five of Auburn’s touchdowns, including four runs for scores inside the red zone.
In the previous game vs. Mississippi State the Tigers not only failed to score a touchdown on four trips inside the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line, they managed just six points on those trips in a 17-9 loss. On five trips into the red zone vs. San Jose State the Tigers scored 28 points and missed a 26-yard field goal.
“He did a lot of good things,” Lashlee said of Barber, who began the season a backup, but leads the Tigers in rushing with an average of 111.6 yards per game.
“Five touchdowns is a lot,” Lashlee pointed out. “He was fortunate to get a couple right there on the one or two-yard line. He did a nice job of punching it in, something we did better this week than we did the week before.”
Auburn improved to 3-2 on the season with the victory vs. the Spartans. The Tigers are off this Saturday and will return to action the following Thursday at Kentucky.
Barber’s career-high five touchdowns are the most for an Auburn player since Carnell “Cadillac” Williams scored six times on the ground against Mississippi State in 2003.
“Peyton has got the size to withstand the 25 carries in this league,” Lashlee said. “He and our O-line tend to get better as the game goes on, which is a good thing.
“I don’t know if I ever thought he would score five touchdowns in a game, but I’m really proud of him because you know how important it is to him and how hard he works.”
Barber waited patiently for his chance since coming to Auburn. He redshirted in 2013 when Tre Mason was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Barber was behind Cameron Artis-Payne, Corey Grant and Roc Thomas on the depth chart in 2014.
“He was probably the (running back) people were talking about the least,” Lashlee said of Barber. “He got his opportunities starting with the Louisville game and made the most of it.
“He has size and ability to hold up, he runs downhill, he runs north and south behind his pads, he will make a guy miss, he will run a guy over and as I’ve said he’s been pretty steady,” Auburn’s offensive coordinator adds.