Auburn is hoping to add the name Mario Fannin to that list in the coming weeks after he got a taste of playing the position against Tennessee. One of the Tigers' more dynamic offensive players, the former high school quarterback turned running back turned receiver hasn't been as effective as the Tigers hoped he would be coming into the season, but he notes that he's planning to be a playmaker for the offense.
"That's something I always try to do," Fannin says. "I try to feed off my teammates and hopefully they feed off me. That's something I try to do and I'm pretty sure everybody else tries to do the same thing. We've got to do that to become a great offense."
Moved to receiver for the 2008 season after shoulder surgery to repair a spring training injury, Fannin hasn't had any setbacks to this point with the injury, which was a serious one. Because he has responded well physically, Auburn's coaching staff has decided to use him more in the backfield to get the ball in the hands of one of their best players.
So far the results have been mixed for Fannin and the offense under coordinator Tony Franklin. In the first four games Fannin was basically a non-factor, but against the Vols he became someone to watch. Touching the ball nine times, the sophomore had 88 all-purpose yards with 41 coming on two kickoff returns.
Several of those plays came from the "War Eagle" formation, Auburn's version of the "Wild Hog" Arkansas used last year for McFadden. Fannin says things went well the first week using the wrinkle.
"It worked out pretty good," he says. "We were getting about four or five yards every time we ran it. We've just basically got to hit the hole better and get better at it."
Trying to do his part to get the offense playing better, Fannin says right now it's not as much about players making plays as it is about players not making mistakes. With just three offensive touchdowns in the last three games, he notes that it's all about being on the same page and everyone doing their own part in order to achieve success
"The coaches point it out to us," Fannin says. "It's basically when we get on the field we try to get whatever point it was done and corrected. It's pretty easy. It's nothing really hard. We've just got to make sure we do the little things right. We do the little things right and we'll have success."
This could be the week for Fannin and the Tigers to break out on offense against Vanderbilt. Despite an undefeated record, the Commodores are 10th in the league in rushing defense, last in pass defense and last in total defense. Despite the history of Vanderbilt and the numbers, Fannin says the Commodores have found a way to win football games this season and that makes them a dangerous opponent for the Tigers.
"It's going to be a great game," he predicts. "Every game is a big game. That's how we look at it. You've got to take it one game at a time. You can't take anybody lightly because anything can happen. We've got to go out there and execute well and basically play hard for 60 minutes. Hopefully, we'll come out a winner."