Ethan Westerman is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has bachelor's degrees in journalism and marketing from the University of Arkansas.
Augustave made most of opportunity against FIU
Arkansas running back Isaiah Augustave (23) carries the ball, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, during the third quarter of the Razorbacks’ 44-20 win over Florida International at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — When Raheim “Rocket” Sanders and Rashod Dubinion left Saturday’s game against Florida International early with injuries, Arkansas freshman running back Isaiah Augustave got an opportunity to showcase his abilities.
The 6-2, 208-pound running back from Naples, Fla., showed out against the school roughly 120 miles southeast of his hometown. Augustave had six carries entering the game, which he more than doubled during the Razorbacks’ 44-20 victory.
Augustave rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries to headline a 323-yard night on the ground. He became the second Arkansas player to eclipse 100 yards rushing in a game this year, joining Sanders, who had 103 yards during the Razorbacks’ 39-36 overtime victory Nov. 4 at Florida.
“He hit and bounced outside and showed a little bit of speed,” FIU coach Mike MacIntyre said. “I thought he did some good things.”
It was a season-high rushing total for the Razorbacks and their most in a regular-season game since 335 yards against Ole Miss on Nov. 19, 2022.
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said the idea was to give Augustave some reps entering the game. Injuries sped up the plan and increased his number of reps.
“Our plan going in was we were going to play R-Dub and Isaiah,” Pittman said. “We were going to play them more than what we had, let's say that. R-Dub got hurt, and Rocket got hurt as well. The great thing about it is we had the opportunity to practice Isaiah with the ones and things like that. It worked out well for us."
Pittman said Sanders left with a shoulder injury and Dubinion exited with knee pain. He reiterated Augustave has not seen much action this season due to his youth, but would have seen action against the Panthers, regardless.
“Going into this week I wanted to see what he could do in a live game,” Pittman said. “We needed a shot at running back. We needed someone to make people miss, run over people, hit holes or whatever it may be with some urgency.
"We thought it might put some urgency into that whole group as well by seeing that he was going to get the opportunity to play."
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson added 98 sack-adjusted yards rushing and commended Augustave after the game for rising to the occasion.
“It was great to see him get out there and use this game as a confidence booster,” Jefferson said. “He’s been practicing really hard and making the most of his opportunities, and his opportunity presented itself today and he was prepared and ready for it. That’s what you want to see from a young guy like Isaiah that just waits until his turn. When his number was called he took full advantage of it. I was extremely proud.”
Late in the game when Augustave was flirting with the first 100-yard game of his college career, Jefferson watched from the sideline and cheered him on.
“I was making sure he got 100 yards,” Jefferson said. “I kept telling him, ‘Go out there. Keep running. Keep running.’ It was just good seeing a young guy like that come in and make the most of his opportunity.”
MacIntyre was disappointed with his team’s inability to stop Arkansas’ run game but gave Jefferson credit for his elusiveness.
“The quarterback is a heck of a runner and made a lot of plays,” he said. “He does a great job.”
The second-year FIU coach said his defensive line never gave up but needed to do a better job stuffing gaps. Arkansas had the second-most rushing yards against the Panthers this season. Only Liberty (364 yards) on Sept. 23 had more.
“They played hard,” MacIntyre said. “They did do a good job in there, but definitely could have played better. To give up 323 yards rushing is not very good, but I thought overall they did compete and give us a chance.”
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