Fannin Happy To Be A Runner Once Again

Sophomore Mario Fannin talks about being a running back once again.

Auburn, Ala.--With the firing of Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on Wednesday, the question now lingers as to what the Tigers will do on offense this weekend against Arkansas.

Because of the success running the football from under center last week early against Vanderbilt, it would probably be safe to assume more of that is on the way in the weeks to come from Auburn.

If that is the case then look for sophomore Mario Fannin to become more involved in the offensive effort for the Tigers. Perhaps Auburn's most explosive offensive player available for action this week, Fannin says that with his shoulder now healthy and strong after having surgery to repair it during the spring he's back at tailback and ready to run.

"That's where I'm practicing during the week," Fannin says. "It's also some at receiver, but mostly running back. Moving back to the backfield is great. It's more natural."

A high school quarterback, Fannin played tailback last season for the Tigers and had a solid year in a reserve role. Playing in all 13 games, Fannin rushed for 448 yards and five touchdowns on just 84 attempts. He says that he's excited about the opportunity to get back in the backfield once again and get some carries.

"That's what I came here for is to run the ball," Fannin says. "Coach Franklin felt like receiver was the best thing for me. I got back there at running back and he said I do a great job with that. Whatever the coaches want me to do, but I feel more natural at running back."

Part of his job could be in the "War Eagle" formation when he lines up at quarterback in the shotgun and takes a direct snap. Auburn used that formation against Tennessee, but didn't show it last week against Vanderbilt. Fannin says he's not sure if you'll see it against Arkansas but he's ready if called upon.

"You never know," Fannin says. "You practice it, but obviously it wasn't the look we needed to run it against. That's the coaches decision mainly."

With Tommy Tuberville saying they still want to be a spread team and with the Tigers obviously interested in being physical in the running game, the question is which one will be emphasized. Fannin says as far as he's concerned they can excel in both parts if they just play the right way.

"We can run it out of the I and we can run the spread," Fannin says. "We have a lot of athletes that can do that. The line does a great job of adjusting. We have a lot of skill players and we can do anything we want to in this offense."

Now the question remains as to just how much of Fannin the Tigers will use the rest of the season. Tuberville says that it could be plenty of he delivers like he's capable of doing.

"Mario is a good athlete," Tuberville notes. "We want to get him more and more involved. The thing we started doing about three weeks ago was putting him more at running back, give him the football and get it underneath his arm.

"We've still got the War Eagle formation. Mario needs to be a big part of it. He's physical. He can catch the ball. He's good on special teams. We'll continue to do as we've done."

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