Auburn’s Pettway will play against Alabama

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By John Zenor

AUBURN, ALA. >> Kam­ryn Pettway is re­turn­ing to Auburn’s back­field just in time for the big­gest chal­lenge of the sea­son.

The 16th-ranked Tigers’ 1,000-yard rusher is ex­pected to play Satur­day against No. 1 Alabama af­ter miss­ing the past two games with a left leg in­jury, coach Gus Malzahn said on Tues­day.

The sta­tus of quar­ter­back Sean White re­mains un­cer­tain with a right, throw­ing shoul­der in­jury. Jeremy John­son re­placed him as the starter against Alabama A&M, with John Franklin III also play­ing. Malzahn said he didn’t ex­pect to make that de­ci­sion un­til af­ter prac­tic­ing Tues­day and Wed­nes­day.

Pettway’s ex­pected re­turn sup­plies a big boost to the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence’s top rush­ing team, es­pe­cially fac­ing the na­tion’s No. 1 run de­fense.

The 6-foot, 240-pounder has run for 1,106 yards de­spite miss­ing three games and fail­ing to log a carry in the opener.

“He’s one of our im­pact play­ers,” Malzahn said. “He’s one of the best run­ning backs in all of col­lege foot­ball and one of the best in our league. Any time you have a guy like that back, it changes things. It changes things in a good way for us.”

He said he wasn’t sure if Pettway would be 100 per­cent. Pettway pulled up with the in­jury at the end of a 60-yard run against Van­der­bilt.

Ker­ryon John­son, who has been nurs­ing an an­kle in­jury, shoul­dered much of the load in his ab­sence. With 823 yards, he’s also clos­ing in on 1,000.

H-back Chandler Cox also re­turns from a leg in­jury to block for the two backs.

Now, White’s sta­tus is the big ques­tion. He was lead­ing the SEC in pass­ing ef­fi­ciency be­fore rein­jur­ing his shoul­der against Ge­or­gia and re­main­ing in the game, strug­gling to a 27-yard pass­ing day.

Jeremy John­son, who opened last sea­son as the starter, passed for 147 yards and rushed for two touch­downs against FCS Alabama A&M. Franklin has sel­dom been used as a passer but has av­er­aged 10.5 yards on 38 car­ries.

Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban said he doesn’t “see a whole lot of dif­fer­ence” among the three quar­ter­backs.

“They’re all a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent, but all very ef­fec­tive in terms of their style and how they play,” Sa­ban said. “Sean White prob­a­bly was the most ef­fec­tive guy throw­ing the ball con­sis­tently to go with their run­ning game but also pulled the ball on some quar­ter­back runs and made plays and was very ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive.

“The other two guys are very ath­letic and very ca­pa­ble of run­ning at any time, scram­bling at any time, mak­ing plays with their feet at any time.”

Jeremy John­son started last year’s Iron Bowl while White was hob­bled with a left knee in­jury. He passed for 170 yards and a touch­down.

Malzahn said the first task in choos­ing a quar­ter­back is to make sure White is healthy enough, then to fig­ure out who gives Auburn the best chance of win­ning.

Ker­ryon John­son said the team has be­lieves all three can­di­dates can get the job done.

“Who­ever it is — Sean, Jeremy or John — we all have faith in them,” he said. “We just have to let it play out and see what hap­pens.”

AL­BERT CE­SARE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Auburn run­ning back Kam­ryn Pettway (36) is ex­pected to play Satur­day against topranked Alabama.

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