AUBURN, Ala. — It looked like Auburn football might not have gotten any closer to finding out its top running backs during the annual A-Day spring game.
The best performance on the ground came from senior walk-on C.J. Tolbert, who isn’t expected to be a contender in the battle. Kam Martin, the most experienced back, did not play with a hamstring “tweak.” Malik Miller started the game but only got 3 carries for 1 yard.
But Gus Malzahn said Saturday the Tigers are still planning on establishing an order of running backs as spring ball comes to a close.
“We’re hopeful we can have some kind of order like we talked about at the first of spring,” Malzahn said. “Today was really good. We got a lot of information. They’ll grade the film and we’ll see where we’re at.”
Freshman Asa Martin led Auburn in A-Day carries with 17 (for 66 yards), most of them coming with the reserves on offense. Tolbert had 16 carries for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns, and JaTarvious Whitlow — the second running back with the first team behind Miller — had 14 for nearly 100 yards.
Sophomore Devan Barrett had 4 carries for 39 yards in a hybrid receiver-running back role that was predicated on motion from out wide.
Malzahn didn’t hint at any separation in the postgame interview session with media. On the SEC Network broadcast of the spring game, the duo of Clay Matvick and Jordan Rodgers said Whitlow, Kam Martin and Miller were the first three names mentioned when talking to coaches about the running back battle.
Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said earlier in camp he wanted to have “at least two or three guys who have maybe separated themselves.”
“Running back-wise, we are going to have some depth,” Malzahn said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
Auburn ends spring camp Tuesday afternoon with a final practice that will focus on special teams and situational work.
Then the running back battle will continue into the summer and fall camp — just with fewer names.
“There’s nothing better than competition,” Malzahn said. “It keeps everybody on that edge. My experience is when you have competition, the cream rises to the top.”