When Auburn takes the field on Sept. 4, it will do so with a new offensive style. Head coach Bryan Harsin has brought in a new offensive coordinator in Mike Bobo, the former South Carolina coach who has had one big emphasis since implementing his new offense: dominate in the run game.
“I believe that you're gonna have to be able to run the ball to get where you want to go and that's ultimately to win a championship,” said Bobo.
Fortunately for the Tigers, they return veterans along the offensive line and two stellar running backs in Shaun Shivers and Tank Bigsby, a preseason first-team All-SEC selection by the media.
The duo arguably carried a lackluster 2020 Auburn offense and are expected to be the heartbeat of the offense once again this season. For Shivers, now entering his senior season, Bobo’s new offense brings nothing but excitement and optimism.
"It'll be really my best year of football, I believe, because I like the new offense that we have, you know it’s more downhill,” said Shivers, who rushed for 276 yards and a touchdown in 2020. He was a good complement and change of pace for fellow back Bigsby, who led the team in rushing as a true freshman. If Shivers is right, even bigger things may be in store for Bigsby this season.
“He’s looking way better than at the end of last year,” said Shivers. “I think this offense is really good for him, too. Now we get him downhill.”
Though the two are at the same position, Bigsby and Shivers both spur one another on and have a close relationship.
“We're gonna push each other to make each other better,” said Bigsby. “You know he is a great person. Great running back.”
Bigsby rushed for 834 yards as a true freshman, with five rushing touchdowns. He was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and rushed for the second-most yards of any freshman in the SEC. Only Michael Dyer rushed for more yards as a freshman in Auburn history. Like Shivers, Bigsby too is excited for what the 2021 Mike Bobo offense has in store.
“It will be different,” said Bigsby. “But I'm excited about Bobo.”
With Auburn trying to replace its top three receivers, expect the offense to lean heavily on the run game this season, at least early on. If both Bigsby and Shivers remain healthy, and the offensive line is able to generate a push along the line, big things may be in store for the Tigers' run game this season.