AUBURN, Ala. - Brad Lester lost his starting job to Kenny Irons. Now, Irons may lose some carries to Lester.
But the two tailbacks for No. 15 Auburn aren't complaining.
"You can't be selfish," Irons said. "That's not how football is played."
Lester was hobbled by a groin injury early in his first career start against Arkansas, and has missed the three games since. He's healthy again in time for the Tigers' visit Saturday night to No. 9 Georgia.
Irons has recorded a workmanlike 115 carries in the past four games, rising to No. 3 in the Southeastern Conference in rushing. Lester ran for 274 yards and five touchdowns on 43 carries before his injury.
"Brad's got fresh legs, and we're looking forward to that," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Kenny is beat up a little bit, and should be after (115) carries in the last four games, which were very physical games against good defenses. He's going to need some guys to help him."
Auburn has plenty of options. Tre Smith and Tristan Davis also have 200-plus rushing yards, though Carl Stewart (151 yards) remains sidelined with an ankle injury. Irons, Lester and Davis also have runs of 70-plus yards, the first time three Auburn backs have done that in a season.
Lester said he could have played against Kentucky, but the coaches wanted to hold him out an extra week. He said there's no jealousy over losing his job.
"I think the thing that makes it not as bad is it's Kenny. Me and Kenny are real good friends," he said. "He keeps me up and keeps me going. He's like, 'Brad, hurry back so you can help me out.' He's not like, 'Well, Brad's hurt and I'm taking over and he's done for the season.'
"That's what makes it great. I'm really happy for him that he's doing well."
The Tigers will be in the strange position of rooting for Alabama before their game Saturday. If the Crimson Tide beats LSU, Auburn would win the SEC West outright with wins over Georgia and 'Bama. LSU also has games remaining at Mississippi and against Arkansas.
"It wouldn't mean anything if they go out and beat LSU and then we lose to Georgia," linebacker Antarrious Williams said. "We've got to take care of our job first and then worry about that. We'll look at the headlines after the game against Georgia."
Defensive tackle T.J. Jackson doesn't think it will affect Auburn's performance if LSU beats Alabama.
"There's still a lot of history in this game," Jackson said. "We've still got to go out there and perform, because you never know what can happen. Right now, we have to try to beat Georgia. That's the main objective."
Prechae Rodriguez is emerging as one of quarterback Brandon Cox's favorite targets. The junior college transfer has six catches for 134 yards in the past two games.
"As many opportunities as they're giving me, that just shows me that they're believing in me," Rodriguez said.
He ran for one touchdown on a reverse and caught a controversial 41-yard touchdown pass against Kentucky, catching the ball after stepping out of bounds.
Kentucky coaches drew two personal fouls protesting after officials allowed the catch to stand, and a few fans threw items onto the field.
"I didn't know I was that far out of bounds," Rodriguez said after watching the play on film.
"I was just focusing on the ball the whole time. Coach was telling me I had a technique error and I have that corrected, so you won't see me out of bounds like that anymore."
Left tackle Marcus McNeill hasn't allowed a sack in 37 starts since the 2002 Georgia game. It was his third collegiate game ... Kentucky was the first team to throw for 200 yards against Auburn ... Auburn and Georgia are tied for the best records in SEC games since 2000 (34-12).