Auburn Tigers’ Cameron Artis-Payne is thriving as Tre Mason’s successor.
Sep 27, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) carries against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs during the second half at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Bulldogs 45-17. ( John Reed-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — It is no secret that a large part of Auburn University’s success on the football field the past two seasons has been their ability to run the ball effectively against every opponent. Tre Mason was the workhorse for Auburn’s running game during their miracle run to the BCS Championship Game in 2013. However, when he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the 2014 NFL Draft, it was assumed that Auburn’s run game would leave with him. Instead, Auburn has been able to run the ball as effectively as ever thanks to senior running back Cameron Artis-Payne.
Artis-Payne’s productivity should be no surprise. As Mason’s backup in 2013, Artis-Payne averaged over 6.7 yards per carry on 91 carries and punched in six touchdowns— outstanding numbers for a second option back.
Artis-Payne’s high level of play has carried over to the 2014 season, and he has been a huge part of Auburn’s success. In fact, even as Auburn’s primary rushing option, Artis-Payne has managed to maintain an average of 5.5 yards per carry and 12.4 yards per reception.
Artis-Payne’s success is especially beneficially for senior quarterback Nick Marshall. Head coach Gus Malzahn loves to run the quarterback option with Marshall and Artis-Payne, and although Marshall hands the ball off more often than not, the carries he does take have been extremely productive. Defenses are too focused on stopping Artis-Payne to contain Marshall as well. Defenses are also over committed to stopping the run, leaving their secondaries exposed. As a result, Marshall is averaging over 6.8 yards per carry this season as well as almost 8 yards per pass.
Artis-Payne’s success this season has placed Auburn in a position to make College Football’s first ever playoff bracket and possibly even make a second-straight National Championship Game appearance. At the rate he is going, Artis-Payne is going to run himself right into the first day of the NFL Draft.