Auburn, Ala.--It’s no coincidence that the improvement of sophomore fullback Chandler Cox has come at the same time the Auburn Tigers found their groove running the football. The changes on the offensive line and Kamryn Pettway’s play notwithstanding, the play of Cox has been a big part of the success for the Tigers.
Ofensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said that is a must for what they want to do on offense and Cox has started to deliver in a big way.
“When that position is playing well and is productive, and even if they're not catching a lot of balls but he's productive at that position, that makes our running game go,” Lashlee said of the fullback/H-back.
Leading the league in rushing and third in the nation, pounding out 303 yards per game, Auburn’s improvement has been steady and the development of Cox has been a big part of that. Making the move back to full-time fullback after getting plenty of work at running back in the spring and preseason, Cox is becoming more comfortable with his role.
“Just being able to focus on H-back has really helped me a lot with the focus in practice because I would go out there in fall camp and some periods I would be playing running back and H-back,” Cox said. “I wouldn’t be able to focus on one thing.
“I’m a guy who’s going to do whatever the coaches tell me to do. I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team. That is what I’ve been trying to do, but being able to just focus on H-back has helped me a lot.”
That has helped Cox settle into the position, but much like Jay Prosch in 2013 it has taken him a while to settle into the role in this offense because it’s a different spot than just a true fullback. Lining up on the edge of the defense and blocking defensive ends and even outside linebackers, Cox said it’s a challenge but one that he’s ready for.
“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s not an easy job at all. In the SEC the guys are big. And whoever I face each week, the linebackers and D-ends, it’s going to be a challenge for me. To be technical, it’s tough to get to that spot where I can dominate. I know there’s still a lot I can improve on and there are still a lot of things I can work on.
“I’m just going to do whatever I can to help this offense and help (Kamryn) Pettway because that’s what I love. I love making that block to put Pettway through the hole and score because that’s what I do. It’s not about me, it’s about this team, it’s about Auburn, it’s about making our offense better and successful."
“It’s really just finishing the play and just playing with heart because you can work on a bunch of things, but at the end of the day it’s how much heart you have because those guys are big. I’m blocking D-ends. I’m blocking Myles Garrett, I’m blocking him and guys that are just so much bigger and stronger than I am. I’m going to put up a fight and I’m going to do whatever I can to help my teammates.”