The Little Train That Could

Auburn running back Kenny Irons had 183 yards as the Tigers pounded Arkansas 34-17.

Fayetteville, Ark.–-Down 10-6 at halftime could have been a time for panic for the Auburn Tigers and in particular the offense, but that wasn't the case Saturday night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. All week long the Auburn coaches have preached poise and confidence and in the locker room at halftime that proved to be big as the team made adjustments and won going away behind the running of Kenny Irons.

"It was great because when we came in nobody was yelling at each other," Irons says. "You have some teams where guys come in the locker room and they start pointing fingers, but we didn't point fingers. We stuck together and stayed a team. We listened to coach (Al) Borges because he has the answer. He has the answers for the offense so we listened to him and knew we could do it."

Kenny Irons was on a roll Saturday night in Fayetteville.

Much of the answer involved getting the ball to number 23. Although redshirt freshman Brad Lester earned the start, Auburn coaches had said all week long that Irons would get his share of the carries. When Lester went down with a strained groin, the numbers increased, but that didn't seem to bother the junior. Putting on a show Irons rushed for 182 yards on 33 carries, but says he was ready for more if needed.

"I never imagined that," Irons says. "It was wonderful. Usually you get 11 or 12 carries a game, but 33, that's a load to put on a running back. But if you're a running back that can handle the load with a great offensive line like we have, it's no problem.

"It has been a long time," Irons says of the last time he ran the ball that much. "But me, myself, I get stronger as the game goes along. I felt that coming in this game with 33 carries. I wanted more, but coach (Eddie Gran) wanted me to come out. He thought I was getting tired, but I was ready. I get stronger and I was ready. I'm ready to break down a defense. The offensive line did a great job. Brandon (Brandon Cox) with the play-action did a great job throwing the ball. Everyone had input into this win."

While Irons will get the numbers, much of the credit for Saturday night's offensive dominance has to go to the Auburn offensive line. Plowing through the Arkansas defense time and time again led by the right side of Troy Reddick and Timmy Duckworth, the Tigers rushed for 233 yards on 52 carries. Irons says that watching the offensive line play that well was a joy to behold.

"They were having a lot of fun, dancing and talking," Irons says. "They were having a great time. Troy Reddick did a great job. We had a lot of runs to his side and he was handling his side. Troy Reddick did an awesome job. Marcus McNeill, Joe Cope, Timmy Duckworth and Ben Grubbs, all of them did a great job."

The offensive line wasn't the only one doing the talking Saturday night as Irons did his fare share as well. Known as a talker anyway, Irons kept his mouth and feet going against Arkansas all night long as the Tigers pounded the Hogs for 19:22 of the second half on the way to the victory.

"I was talking trash out there and they were getting mad," Irons says. "I ran a couple of guys over and knocked their helmets off and I told them ‘I'm a train. I'm little, but I'm a train.' It was fun. When you're putting points on the board and you see a team get into one another and break apart, it makes it even easier for an offense to throw the ball because mentally they're not in the game. It helped us out and it was on the road too.

"We could tell because as the plays went along they were starting to argue with one another," Irons adds on the game. "When the game started they were together. But, they started arguing and yelling at one another. When something went wrong another player would get mad at another player. It was like we started breaking them down. That's something we wanted to do. They couldn't stop the run and our offensive line kept on pancaking them and blocking."

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