Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne shows why he earned the start
It took five games last season for an Auburn running back to emerge as the starter. Senior Cameron Artis-Payne, who was in a dog fight with fellow senior Corey Grant in fall camp this season, needed about three quarters against Arkansas to show his ability. His productivity in the fourth quarter alone showed that the starting job should be his for the rest of the season.
It was a half an hour before kick when it was announced that the Harrisburg, Pa. native was getting the start. After four quarters, and an hour and 28 minute rain delay, Artis-Payne finished with a career-high 177 yards on 26 attempts with one touchdown. It was CAP’s third career 100-yard rushing game.
Head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee didn’t name a starter when fall camp was completed. Even if one emerged, they weren’t going to make it public anyway. That might have been based upon what happened in 2013: Tre Mason, Grant and Artis-Payne each showed flashes worthy of starting through the first four games. Grant was the leading rusher against Washington State and Mississippi State, CAP against Arkansas State and Mason against LSU.
So, they decided to throw both CAP and Grant out there and see what happens. What happened was a display by CAP showing what a great center of gravity he has, as well as yards after contact.
“Cameron Artis-Payne really carried the load for us,” Malzahn said after the game. “I thought he did a solid job of running between the tackles. He is at his best as the game goes on.”
INSIDE CAP’S NUMBERS:
- 1st Quarter’s first two possessions: 7 carries, 13 yards
- 1st Quarter’s third possession: 3 carries, 21 yards
- 2nd Quarter: 5 carries, 22 yards
- 3rd Quarter: 4 carries, 23 yards
- 4th Quarter: 7 carries, 98 yards (3 carries, 46 yards before lightning delay & 4 carries, 52 yards after delay)
Grant finished with 87 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown. The speedster had several Corey Grant-like runs, getting to the edge and turning the corner for big gains. Grant also had a couple of inside-the-tackles runs as well.
Still, CAP showed he is more than capable of carrying of load. Many feared that there would be a big drop off with the departure of Mason. For the first game of the year, CAP showed there wasn’t any drop off.