AUBURN, Ala. — When Auburn takes the field in Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day it won’t be able to completely move on from 2017.
For starters, the Tigers could be without SEC Offensive Player of the Year Kerryon Johnson. The junior, who finished ninth in Heisman voting, has had downtime in the nearly two weeks since the SEC Championship game. Malzahn said Johnson’s injuries didn’t require surgery and explained he’d know more in the weeks to come.
“I know he’ll want to play,” Malzahn said. “He’s a great competitor. All of our guys will want to play. Our guys play for each other. So we’ll see where that goes. I’ll have a better idea once we get out to practice and move around and everything that goes with that.”
The Tigers are finishing up finals this week and will begin on bowl practice on Friday, according to Malzahn.
After a week of uncertainty about Johnson played against Georgia on Dec. 2 with a known shoulder injury. Malzahn revealed after the loss that Johnson was also dealing with ” a rib issue.”
Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and a wide range of players praised Johnson’s toughness and Johnson himself wouldn’t comment on the extent of his injuries.
Still, despite not being completely healthy, Johnson carried the ball 13 times, totaling 44 yards against the Playoff-bound Bulldogs. It was the lowest total of the season for the running back who amassed 271 yards in wins over Georgia and Alabama during November.
Johnson was named a second-team All America selection by the Associated Press, Sporting News, and the Football Writers Association of America. The Huntsville, Ala., native led the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards (1,320).