Cadillac Williams is doubling (or tripling) down on Auburn's ground game — as he should
"I think one of the greatest things about the game of football is when your opponent knows you are running the ball, but you still impose your will."
RB Tank Bigsby (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Cadillac Williams says he wants “to get back to old-school Auburn football.”
And that goes beyond linking arms at the front of the line during the pregame tunnel runout and playing “Welcome to the Jungle” over the PA system.
“Auburn, to me, is about work, hard work,” Williams said earlier this week. “Auburn is about toughness, perseverance. We wanna be tough, and we wanna be physical. So I think one of the greatest things about the game of football is when your opponent knows you are running the ball, but you still impose your will. It takes the fight out of a lot of teams.”
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the legendary running back-turned-running backs coach-turned-interim head coach is really committed to establishing the ground game — especially considering one of his co-offensive coordinators, Will Friend, is an offensive line coach.
In two games under Williams, Auburn has taken its resurgent rushing attack to a whole new level. The Tigers have run for 533 yards on 101 carries, an average of 5.28 yards per touch. That ranks second in the SEC behind Florida, which is No. 2 in the entire country in rushing average for the entire season.
During the month of September, Auburn ran for 4.35 yards per carry, which ranked 11th in the SEC. In October, it jumped up to 4.77 yards per carry and sixth in the league. But, so far in November, the Tigers are running it the best they have all season long.
And, like Williams says, opponents know it’s coming.
Sophomore quarterback Robby Ashford, who has struggled with his accuracy for most of the season, has gone just 13-35 passing over the last two games. The Tigers have run the ball nearly triple that amount.
The last two weeks marked the first time Auburn has recorded more than 45 carries in consecutive games since November of the 2017 season — when the Tigers marched to the SEC West title, including a pair of wins over No. 1-ranked Georgia and Alabama, by running it 52, 46, 48 and 49 times over the span of four contests.
Auburn’s switch to a run-heavier strategy under Williams is simply a case of concentrating on a team’s strengths at the end of a tough season. There are no more style points to win anymore. There’s going to be a new head coach on the Plains soon. Any concept of balance or looking pretty on offense can be thrown out.