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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Auburn running backs breaking 1-2 mold

I wrote a story for today's paper about Auburn's running back duo of Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb. Here's how it starts:

AUBURN, Ala. — When a football team splits carries between two different-sized running backs, it is practically sportswriting law to identify the bigger one as “Thunder” and the smaller one as “Lightning.”

In Auburn’s case, neither of the two players involved are fond of being typecast.

Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb formed a solid 1-2 punch for the Tigers in their 37-13 season-opening win against Louisiana Tech. McCalebb ran for 148 yards and a touchdown, and Tate added 117 yards, the first time since 2007 that Auburn had two players top 100 rushing yards in the same game.

The duo seems to work perfectly as a power/speed combination, with the 5-foot-11, 218-pound Tate being the former and the 5-foot-10, 164-pound McCalebb the latter. But Auburn’s coaches don’t want to limit them to one style of running.

“I think the bigger guys can run inside and outside, and I think the little guys can run outside and inside too,” coach Gene Chizik said. “Is one of them more suited for one rather than the other? Possibly, maybe. But they can both do both, and they both will.

“We’ve only played one game, but we want to be a physical offense and run the football. As I’ve said since Day 1, whoever we give it to has to be able to do both.”

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