Auburn Football: Cameron Artis-Payne Off to #AuburnFast Start


Oct 4, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) gets past LSU Tigers safety Rickey Jefferson (29) at Jordan Hare Stadium. Auburn beat LSU 41-7. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest question marks surrounding the Auburn football squad entering the 2014 season was at the running back position. Sure, Auburn returned more rushing yards than any team in the SEC, but there was a concern as to who would step up to become the primary ball carrier after Tre Mason’s departure to the NFL.

As a junior, Mason exploded onto the national college football scene. He broke Bo Jackson’s single-season rushing record with 1,816 yards and also set the school’s touchdown mark with 23 on the way to becoming a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

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He set a record with 46 carries in the SEC Championship Game against Missouri and nearly broke the single-game record with 304 rushing yards that night against the Tigers, but fell three yards shy of Curtis Kuykendall’s 1944 masterpiece against Miami. The running back was a major reason the 2013 Auburn football team was able to turn itself around, along with head coach Gus Malzahn, from 3-9 in 2012 to an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game.

And would you believe that Mason’s replacement, Cameron Artis-Payne, is off to a stronger start in 2014? A #AuburnFast start, if you will.

Artis-Payne, a senior from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was Mason’s backup in 2013. CAP, as he is often known, ran for 610 yards and six touchdowns on 91 carries last season and he’s nearly met those marks already in 2014 through five games. So far, the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder has rushed for 594 yards and five TDs on 110 carries. How does that compare with Mason’s start in 2013? Much, much better.

Cameron Artis-Payne’s Career Statistics:

Last year, Mason and Artis-Payne shared the load early in the season, and the current St. Louis Ram didn’t even break the century mark in a game until Week 4 against LSU. Through five games, Mason averaged 83 yards per game. To this point in the season, Artis-Payne has rushed for 118.8 per contest and has been held short of 100 yards only once.

Plus, CAP has emerged as a threat to catch passes out of the backfield. He has eight receptions for 99 yards so far, after hauling in only one last season for four yards. Mason had 12 catches for 163 yards a touchdown in 2013.

Not only is Cameron Artis-Payne off to a faster start than Tre Mason last year, he has rushed for more yards through the first five games of a season than any running back since Carnell Williams in 2002. That season, Cadillac had 639 rushing yards through five games. Unfortunately, Williams was only able to play twice more that season and finished with 745 rushing yards.

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  • If Auburn were to play 14 games this season like Mason did last year, CAP is currently on pace for 1,663 rushing yards, which would place third in the single-season record book. He’ll need to gain 135.78 yards per game the rest of the season to match Mason’s total through 14 games.

    Obviously, should the Tigers repeat as SEC Champions and make it to the National Championship Game like Mason’s 2013 squad, Auburn will play 15 times. Therefore, Artis-Payne’s necessary average will need to be 122.2 – just a tick above his current pace.

    Whether he breaks the single-season rushing record and ends up a Heisman finalist like Mason or not, the most important statistic to Cameron Artis-Payne is wins, and so far CAP holds the edge. At 5-0, the 2014 Tigers have a one-game lead on the 2013 Auburn football team and Artis-Payne and company will aim to their #AuburnFast start this Saturday in Starkville against Mississippi State.