Fannin Getting Expanded Role in Offense

Auburn, Ala.--Tailback and kick returner Tristan Davis got the negative news on Friday that he would miss the next 6-8 weeks, and was having a pin inserted into his foot while his teammates scrimmaged for roughly 125 plays on Saturday morning. That meant an expanded role for the other three tailbacks.

"We had a three-player rotation and I think we did all right," says redshirt freshman Mario Fannin. "We all got into the rotation. We were tired, but you just have to learn how to push through. If you were tired you just tell coach so you won't have to do a play.

"Things happen for a reason and we've got to come together more and pray for him (Davis), come together and get through this together," Fannin adds. "We're praying for him every day to get back as soon as possible."

With Carl Stewart out with a hamstring injury, other players have had to step up to facilitate the loss. Fullbacks Danny Perry and John Douglas have gotten more action, tight end Tommy Trott has been used more at the ‘T' position, and Fannin and Tate have gotten a more expanded role at the ‘F.'

"On some plays I run block," Fannin says, "mostly on the ‘out' series I'll be playing ‘F' or tail. It all depends on the coach's decision. We all contribute something to the running game. Ben has speed and power, I have speed and power, Brad has quickness and power, so we all contribute something else at running back.

"They have some screens for me, some plays where I motion out," he adds. "They're going to use Ben in that aspect of the game also. I'm just glad to get the opportunity."

Fannin takes a lead play off tackle at practice.

Davis was the number one choice at kickoff returner prior to the injury and Fannin was also in the mix with Lester and defensive back Patrick Lee. With Davis likely missing most of September, Fannin will probably be one of the two deep backs when the Tigers take the field against Kansas State on Sept. 1. He's also vying for time at punt returner with Robert Dunn.

Fannin scored on a touchdown from about 10 yards out early in the scrimmage, and was one of the few bright spots on offense as the line didn't have one of its better days. The defense won the first big battle of the spring, but Fannin says the whole offense, not just the line, must get better including himself.

"I'm just learning the (pass protection) coverages, learning the fronts, leg drives and basically continuing to learn the offense as a whole and what everybody is doing and with what I'm doing in certain sitations," he notes. "I've never seen the defensive playbook, but they came with blitzes and stunts. We've just got to do our job as backs to learn when to pick it up and when not to pick it up with hot reads and things of that nature."

Fannin started camp at 225, but has dropped to 220 because of the heat index that has been above 100 degrees for the last few days at practice. He says he'd like to stay about 225 for the 2007 season.

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