AUBURN, Ala. — Tre Mason will forever be remembered as the player who scored the go-ahead touchdown in Auburn’s 45-41 victory over Texas A&M.
Reese Dismukes just hopes people don’t forget about him.
No, the junior center didn’t do anything out of the ordinary on the play — “I was just blocking,” he said Tuesday. Unintentionally, however, Dismukes provided a buffer for Mason on the running back’s 5-yard touchdown run. Since Mason was on Dismukes’ back, he was never ruled down, allowing him to stretch the ball across the goal line for the final score of the Tigers’ upset victory.
Not that the leader of Auburn’s offensive line had any problem with Mason receiving the majority of the credit.
“I like to think I helped a little bit,” Dismukes said. “He did a lot of the work and he’s a great back. I’m glad we have him.”
Those were the final five yards of the Tigers’ 379-yard rushing effort against the Aggies. Many times, Texas A&M loaded the box. It didn’t matter, as the Tigers ran it, anyway.
It was something Dismukes said the entire offense took confidence from, pleased to see it can run the ball regardless of the situation.
“That’s what teams are going to do,” he said of the Aggies’ strategy of putting nine in the box. “Moving on we’re going to have to throw the ball to open up the running game. We’ve got a lot of answers for everything everybody is doing right now.”
What’s the key to Auburn’s powerful ground game?
Gus Malzahn said it wasn’t just one thing.
“Our offensive line is doing a solid job,” Auburn’s head coach said. “The fact that (we have fullback) Jay Prosch at the point of attack is probably as good as anybody in college football blocking. Then we've got three running backs that are all a little bit different. Then the fact that our quarterback is a run threat, too. I think all those factors combined have helped us.”
But how does Auburn’s backfield compare to others Malzahn has coached? He felt it was difficult to answer, as he was at Arkansas when the team had both Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, who Malzahn called “two of the better players to ever play college football.”
He took nothing away from the three running backs he has now, though. There’s a reason the Tigers are the top-ranked rushing offense in the SEC, after all, averaging 300.1 yards per game, nearly 66 yards ahead of second-place Missouri. In Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant, the Tigers boast three players who own different skill sets and complement each other well.
Malzahn is just trying to make sure the ground game’s good fortune doesn’t end any time soon.
“Our guys are talented,” he said. “I think they're good at what they do and we're just trying to put them in situations where they can be successful at what they do.”