All running back Kerryon Johnson needed to get in the grove Saturday night was the impact of an opposing defender.
Johnson injured his right ankle after playing a handful of snaps against Mississippi State on Oct. 8.
The running back only missed Auburn’s 56-3 win over Arkansas last week, but a bye week sandwiched in between the games made it a long layoff for the sophomore.
“It was good last week to not have to go,” Johnson said. “That really saved me. This week I felt really good during practice and in pregame warm-ups.”
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Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee didn’t make Johnson wait very long on the sidelines before giving the back a chance to get involved in Oxford. Lashlee called Johnson’s number three times on the offense’s 10-play opening drive.
“Once that adrenaline gets going I just needed to get hit one time,” Johnson said. “I got hit the first time and shook it off and I was good to go after that.”
Johnson’s numbers might look modest compared to the third straight record setting performance from fellow running back Kamryn Pettway — Pettway carried the ball 30 times for 236 yards — but the Madison Academy alum played a key role in his team’s 40-29 win.
“I'm pleased with the way I played but I feel like I could have done more,” Johnson said. “I had a fumble, which was unacceptable.”
DeMarquis Gates forced the fumble while Auburn was trying to run out the clock on what would be the final possession of the game. Alex Kozan recovered the ball with 51 seconds on the clock.
Auburn fans will be hard-pressed to remember the mistake with Johnson having scored a pair of touchdowns.
“It felt great,” Johnson said of his touchdowns. “I told Pettway after that, 'I forgot how that felt.' He said, 'I waited three years for it.' It was great, though, to get back in there. Kudos to Pettway for getting me down there in the first place.”
Johnson’s first touchdown came on a 1-yard run in the second quarter out of the wildcat formation. It was the first direct snap for Johnson in the formation since Auburn’s win over LSU in September.
The versatile running back was also back to his old ways catching a pair of passes for 43 yards and returning a kick for 24-yards. His 37-yard catch in the second quarter tied a career high. It was the fourth time in his career Johnson gained 100 all-purpose yards or more.
Johnson showed Ole Miss his full skill set Saturday night, but the running back wasn’t ready to declare himself 100 percent after the game.
“In this league at this time of year, nobody on the field is 100 percent,” Johnson said. “Everybody is dinged here, dinged there. You go in any training room around the country, you're going to see guys that you see play every Saturday in boots and casts and stuff. I just had to come out here no matter my percent and play like I can.”