Kerryon Johnson did not focus on his injured shoulder or on the band of his right ribs.
After being held in a season low 44 yards rushing on 13 carries in a 28-7 loss to Georgia in the SEC Game Championship, the Auburn star runner was trampled for clumsy for the first time all season .
"The injuries never had anything to do with the loose ball," Johnson said of his turnover on the opening play of the fourth quarter. "I just did not wrap the ball, that's how it is, if you go out and play, you have to play and not make mistakes and I had problems, I hurt the team that led to the next two touchdowns. We lost the game, it's when I made a mistake, I have to admit that, it's my fault. "
Johnson did not excuse his injuries and did not even acknowledge the undisclosed problem with his right rib, saying only that he was not "100 (percent)", but nobody is at this time of the season.
It did not stop coaches and teammates from praising his toughness.
"I can not say enough about how hard he is and the guts he has," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. "I had a problem in the ribs, I had a shoulder problem, we did not really know if I was going to play, he did some things in practice, but it was very, very limited." 19659002] "Before the game, as the adrenaline started, he felt that he could leave. He gave us everything he had. You could see that it was not 100 percent. But he helped us get here, and he's a great player. "
Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said Johnson is the" toughest guy "he ever had.
" He was not at his best, and we all know it, but I have a lot of respect for him because of the way he fought tonight, "Lindsey said.
Johnson had six carries for 17 yards in the first quarter and added just two more for a loss of a yardage during the second quarter when the Tigers saw their 7-0 lead become a 10-7 deficit.
He had four carries for 27 yards, including a 15-yard run, during the third quarter, but only three of his runs. for five or more yards.
In addition to Johnson, Auburn turned to Kam Martin (four carries for 20 yards), Malik Miller (two carries for six yards) and Eli Stove (three carries for 19 yards) with mixed success. Jarrett Stidham added nine carries for 25 yards.
"It's hard to l, but at the same time, here at Auburn we recruit many great players for reasons like that, "Stidham told Johnson's ID playing hurt. "I was hurt tonight, but other guys came up and made plays for us."
For 262 carries and 1,319 yards on the ground, Johnson had not lost the ball. But with Auburn losing 13-7 at his own 47-yard line to open the fourth quarter, Johnson ran to the left and Lorenzo Carter of Georgia recovered the ball and Roquan Smith recovered.
Four plays later, Georgia scored to make it 21-7.
"That's very disappointing," Johnson said. "That's a statistic I'm proud of: Fighting in the SEC Championship when you're down by 7 or 10 points (and) giving a touchdown to a team, I think that's the worst loose ball you can do. it came at a bad time, it means I have to go back to work, it means I got too comfortable …
"I have not lost the ball all year, so obviously that stops us in our tracks. We put them in good condition. field position We did some unusual things that did not happen all year, it did not happen for sure. We had some sanctions and that will do it. "
James Crepea is Auburn's beat reporter for the Alabama Media Group Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea .