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The Auburn Players Penn State HC James Franklin Mentioned in his Weekly Press Conference

Penn State has a showdown with Auburn this Saturday at 3:30.

At the start of his press conferences, Penn State coach James Franklin talks about the team’s upcoming opponent as part of his opening statement. 

He mentions the opposing coaches and players who have stuck out to him and Penn State’s coaching staff.

Auburn had a disappointing 2021, finishing 6-7 and losing its last five games. Penn State beat Auburn in the first regular-season meeting between the schools, winning 28-20 at Beaver Stadium in the school’s annual White Out game.

Auburn is 2-0 this year with wins over Mercer and San Jose State.

Franklin mentioned seven Auburn players by name and alluded to others in his third press conference of the 2022 season this past Tuesday. This article will go over who they are and what they can do. 

TANK BIGSBY

Position: Running back

Height: 6-feet

Weight: 213 pounds 

We’ve talked about Bigsby extensively already this week.

He’s the best player in Auburn’s offense, breaking 1,000 yards and rushing for 10 touchdowns last season.

One hundred two of those yards and two touchdowns came against Penn State. Although Auburn lost that game in Beaver Stadium, 28-20, Bigsby impressed, and he is one of the main storylines heading into Saturday.

 

 

JA’VARRIUS JOHNSON

Position: Receiver

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 160 pounds 

Johnson only had 19 catches for 274 yards last season, but he’s capable enough for Franklin to mention him by name in his presser.

Johnson is already close to matching last year’s yards, gaining 158 on seven catches through Auburn’s first two games, suitable for a 22.6 yards per catch average.

Johnson hasn’t scored a touchdown yet, but his speed makes him a threat to do so on any play.

ROBBY ASHFORD

Position: Quarterback

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 212 pounds

Auburn used two quarterbacks, and Franklin didn’t mention TJ Finley.

It’s likely that the main reason Franklin brought up Ashford, however, is that Penn State recruited him out of high school.

Ashford, a product of Hoover High School in Alabama, transferred to Auburn after two seasons at Oregon this winter.

In two games, he’s 5-for-10 passing with 101 yards but has done the most damage on the ground, picking up 129 yards on 13 rushes, good for an 11.3 yards per carry average. Ashford had a 49-yard run against San Jose State last week and is a big play threat to Penn State.

COLBY WOODEN

Position: Defensive end

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 284 pounds 

Wooden made the SEC’s All-Freshman team as a defensive tackle in 2020 and started at defensive end last year. 

Wooden had five sacks last season and four his redshirt freshman year. He doesn’t yet have a sack in 2022, but did have a tackle for loss against San Jose State. 

Penn State gave up five sacks and eight tackles for loss against Ohio, so if the offensive line doesn’t clean up some things, Wooden could take advantage. 

DERICK HALL

Position: Defensive end

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 256 pounds 

Hall has spent time at both defensive end and linebacker, being named second-team All-SEC by coaches in 2021.

Hall had nine sacks last season and had a sack in Auburn’s 2022 season opener against Mercer. Like Wooden, he could be a problem for Penn State’s offensive line.

Hall also made headlines this week by saying that Auburn’s Orange Out will be better than Penn State’s White Out.

CAM RILEY

Position: Linebacker 

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 230 pounds

Riley didn’t start last season but made a big first impression this year with 16 tackles (10 solo) against Mercer.

He’s tied for fourth in the SEC with 20 tackles (13 solo) through two games. 

DONOVAN KAUFMAN

Position: Safety 

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 205 pounds 

Kaufman, a transfer from Vanderbilt, became a starting safety in his first season at Auburn last year, finishing the season with 33 tackles, with both solo tackles coming against Penn State.

Kaufman also had a 38-yard interception against South Carolina, so he’s capable of making a big play. 

JARQUEZ HUNTER

Position: Running back

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 202 pounds

Franklin didn’t mention Hunter by name, but he did mention Auburn’s “running backs in general.”

Hunter rushed for 593 yards and four touchdowns last season, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. This year, he’s picked up 75 yards on 16 carries, averaging 4.7. 

Against Penn State last season, Hunter gained 63 yards on nine carries, including a 24-yard run. 

Damari Alston

Position: Running back

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 209 pounds

Alston is a true freshman from Atlanta. The four-star recruit was the No. 3 running back in the 2022 class, according to Rivals.

In two games, Alston has six carries for 47 yards, breaking off a 38-yard run against San Jose State. 

OSCAR CHAPMAN

Position: Punter

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 202 pounds

Chapman, an Australian, was second in the SEC in punting average last season.

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