AUBURN, Ala. — Not many expected a fullback to have the biggest play of the A-Day game Saturday.
Auburn’s Chandler Cox did just that and almost broke free for a touchdown on a 71-yard scamper late in the first quarter. Chased down by freshman cornerback John Broussard Jr., Cox placed the Tigers at the 9-yard line, but the offense failed to score a touchdown (they only had one touchdown in five trips to the red zone).
“I wasn’t thinking about getting that big of a gain, but I was looking and thinking ‘Is someone going to catch me?’” Cox said. “It was an awesome time and play.”
Auburn’s promise to give fullbacks Kamryn Pettway and Cox an opportunity to carry the ball proved true at A-Day. Cox finished with 72 yards on two carries and Pettway had the second-best day among the 18 players to carry the ball with 77 yards on seven carries, an average of 11 yards per tote.
“I think we played well today,” Pettway said. “I think we have a bright future as a 1-2 combo. I feel like we bring a lot of versatility to the offense this year. We can run the ball and block. As freshmen, we mostly blocked. We were young, so we didn’t know too much. I think we’re learning. We’ll mature a lot this year.”
Running backs coach Tim Horton said the duo will carry the ball “a whole lot more” in 2016 than they did in 2015.
“We are just really trying to develop some depth at that position and those two guys have a really good chance to help out in certain situations,” coach Gus Malzahn said.
Fullbacks rarely carry the ball in Malzahn’s offense, but that seems to be changing.
“They bring a certain element of toughness to the position that we needed,” Horton said. “They’re fall-forward backs. They’re going to get yards after contact. They’re going to move the chains. I’ve been pleased with both of them.”
Cox (6-1, 232) and Pettway (6-0, 242) certainly have the size to be bruising, north-south runners in the SEC. Both played tailback in high school, and Pettway arrived at Auburn believing he would share the tailback load with Roc Thomas in 2014. He quickly moved to H-Back and fullback as depth became an issue upon his arrival on campus. Now he may carry the ball after all.
“Everyone needs to click together,” Cox said. “We need to have everyone to think the same and be on the same page. We just need to work together. That’s the biggest thing.”