AUBURN, Ala. — As the grind of the regular season starts to pick up, Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team is having to adjust to injury issues it was fortunate to avoid in September. Some of those issues, though, won’t carry into the team’s first road trip of 2016.
Malzahn confirmed Tuesday during his weekly press conference that starting center Xavier Dampeer and backup running back Kamryn Pettway will play Saturday at Mississippi State (noon ET, SEC Network).
“Health-wise, Kamryn Pettway and Xavier Dampeer will both be back,” Malzahn said. “They both practiced Sunday, so we should be pretty healthy.”
Dampeer and Pettway sat out Auburn’s 58-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe last weekend due to minor injuries suffered against LSU. With Dampeer out, Auburn moved left tackle Austin Golson back to his old position of center as Darius James made the start on the blind side.
Auburn is expected to go back to its standard starting lineup across the offensive line for the Mississippi State trip, with James playing as the “sixth man” in unbalanced formations.
Pettway is averaging 6.46 yards per carry this season as the primary backup to starting running back Kerryon Johnson. He suffered a bruised quad injury against LSU but will be back to play against Mississippi State.
Fellow running back Malik Miller, though, will not be. Malzahn confirmed a report from Brandon Marcello of 247Sports Tuesday that stated the true freshman underwent knee surgery Monday.
“Malik Miller did have surgery,” Malzahn said. “He’ll be back. It was successful. He’ll be back hopefully by the end of the year.”
With Miller out for the foreseeable future, Auburn will rely more on true freshman Kam Martin to provide depth behind Johnson and Pettway. Malzahn also mentioned sophomore wide receiver Stanton Truitt, who has taken snaps at running back, as someone who will play a “dual role” in the backfield and in the slot moving forward.
Malzahn also said Tuesday that some lingering injury concerns have played a part in a diminished role over the last few weeks for senior wide receiver Marcus Davis.
The Tigers’ most experienced wideout has just 13 catches for 100 yards through the first five games of the season. He didn’t record a reception against Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday and was only targeted once in the passing game.
“He has a few issues health-wise that we just wanted to be smart with him,” Malzahn said. “But Marcus is one of our staple guys and he’ll be on the field more moving forward.”