Kerryon Johnson doesn’t need a co-pilot.
Auburn named the sophomore running back and Kamryn Pettway co-starters two weeks ago.
With Pettway unable to go with a bruised quad, Johnson had the spotlight all to himself Saturday for Auburn’s homecoming game against ULM at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Johnson set new career-highs for yards and touchdowns by halftime of the 58-7 win.
“Kerryon is starting to come into his own,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
It was the same kind of performance everyone saw in the second half against LSU last week. The elusive 6-foot-0, 211-pounder shed tackle after tackle as he shouldered a heavy second half workload.
Johnson was back at it Saturday running with the same chip on his shoulder that carried him through the 18-13 win over LSU.
“I got tired of losing close games,” Johnson said. “I got tired of losing games in general. Shoot. I have lost more games my first two years here than high school alone. I just got tired of losing. I had to do my part to influence the win for us.”
Johnson capped off his high school career with three straight state titles at Madison Academy with a championship game record six touchdowns.
The former Alabama Mr. Football’s level of early success isn’t unique in Auburn’s locker room either.
“A lot of us just got feed up,” Johnson said. “It’s our time to start winning games.”
It’s why Johnson downplayed his most recent career performance. A week after putting up a career-best 161 total yard of offense, he set new career marks with 146 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Johnson has 517 rushing yards this season with six touchdowns on more than five yards a carry.
“It was great, but we know the main goal is we have to win SEC games,” Johnson said. “We have what five straight or something coming up. If I can put those kind of performances in those games and get us to Atlanta that’s the goal.”
Johnson is already two carries shy of doubling the total number of carries he had as a freshman through five games this season.
The irony for Johnson is how much better he feels physically than he did at this point last season.
“I feel better,” Johnson said. “Last year I was already — my shoulder was messed up. My hamstrings were bothering me. I feel a lot better at this point than last year surprisingly.”
Johnson didn’t spend much time on the sidelines during the first half as Auburn built a 28-0 lead. The running back is willing to play the same number of snaps in upcoming games against Mississippi St. or Arkansas if the game plan calls for it.
“It felt a little different, I think I had 21 carries by halftime, it felt different in terms of being on the field a lot more. We usually do a series here or a series there,” Johnson said. “Other than that it didn’t feel any different.”
Sean White offered a unique perspective on the importance of lining up next to Johnson on almost every play through three quarters.
“He does so many things,” White said. “He can block on third downs, pass protection and he can catch a check down. He can do a whole bunch of stuff. He’s always going to do the right thing in the right spot.”