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A.J. Johnson, Cameron Artis-Payne working in Wildcat roles

The Wildcat offense that Auburn coach Gus Malzahn helped popularize in the Southeastern Conference as an assistant coach is making a comeback on the Plains.

And in Knoxville.

And perhaps at some other SEC stadium near you, as well.

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The direct snap to a running back, ideally one with a modicum of passing ability, took on various forms in the SEC in the last 6-8 years. Darren McFadden at Arkansas, Randall Cobb at Kentucky, and Mark Ingram at Alabama, among others, took their share of direct snaps before the formation nearly died out in SEC play. On Saturday, however, new Tigers running back Cameron Artis-Payne got the first look as Auburn's new Wildcatter, carrying three times for 27 yards on direct snaps against Pac-12 foe Washington State.

"We haven't really talked about (putting anybody else back there) yet," AU running back Corey Grant told "He did a great job this first game."

Meanwhile at Tennessee, linebacker A.J. Johnson's role as an occasional Wildcat quarterback apparently wasn't lost in the transition from Derek Dooley to Butch Jones. Johnson rushed for six touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012 from the Wildcat.

"He finally got his wish a little bit," Jones told, discussing Johnson's request to stay involved with the offense.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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