The already thin Auburn Tigers’ backfield got even thinner on Saturday against Mississippi State, but the team remains “very optimistic” starting tailback Kerryon Johnson will be able to return for Auburn’s matchup against Arkansas on Oct. 22.
The Tigers have a bye this week, so if Johnson is able to play versus Arkansas, he will not miss any game action.
Johnson suffered an ankle injury against the Bulldogs on Saturday. The sophomore had his ankle taped and he was walking up and down the sidelines during the game, but he never returned to the field. After the game, he walked off the field on crutches.
“He’s progressing better than our trainers maybe thought after Saturday,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said, according to Dothan Eagle. “It’s nothing major and serious, but we just hope he’ll continue to improve and get better.”
Without Johnson, Auburn turned to redshirt sophomore Kamryn Pettway in the backfield. Johnson and Pettway are the only two running backs with any experience on the Tigers’ roster, so with Johnson unavailable, Pettway carried the ball 39 times. He performed well while gaining 169 yards on those attempts.
Auburn also handed the ball off to true freshman running back Kam Martin, who gained eight yards on two attempts, and converted wide receiver Stanton Truitt, who was able to run for 32 yards on four carries. Johnson leads the team with 538 rushing yards, 105 carries and six rushing touchdowns, so despite overcoming his loss versus Mississippi State, Auburn will really miss him if he can’t play against No. 22 Arkansas.
Auburn is 4-2, including a 2-1 record in conference play. The Tigers are one of five teams with zero or one conference losses in the SEC West division.