Jump to content

Auburn's offense may get carried away

DKW 86

Recommended Posts


Auburn's offense may get carried away

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Times Sports Staff pmarsh9485@msn.com

Smith says corps of backs may be better than in '04

AUBURN - Tre Smith knows great running backs.

For three seasons, Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams were his teammates on their way to being among the first five players chosen in the 2005 NFL draft. Last season, Smith saw Kenny Irons have the sixth-best rushing season in Auburn history and lead the Southeastern Conference with 1,293 yards.

But Smith, heading toward his fifth season as an Auburn running back, says the runners of 2006 might be the best group yet.

Irons, touted by some as a Heisman candidate, leads the way. Sophomore Brad Lester, junior Carl Stewart, Smith and freshmen Ben Tate and Mario Fannin are jockeying for position. When a bruiser is needed at fullback, junior walk-on Andrew Turman will get the call, at least until sophomore Mike McLaughlin recovers from knee surgery.

"Even with the great players we've had before, this group practices better than any group I've been with," Smith said. "When we watched film of practice, I was kind of awestruck. Everybody was doing so good out there. Nobody messes up. Everybody knows their assignments so much better."

Running backs coach Eddie Gran's problem is trying to figure out a playing rotation. He knows Irons will run until he's tired. Beyond that, he's still working the puzzle.

The two-tailback scheme developed by offensive coordinator Al Borges to make use of Williams and Brown in 2004 will resurface as a major part of Auburn's offense. Irons will play only tailback, but Lester, Stewart, Smith and Tate can play tailback or the so-called "F" position.

"That's the neat part about it," Gran said. "We've never had it that way."

Lester, plagued by injuries the past two seasons, has made it through spring and to this point in preseason camp healthy. Stewart, who is poised to join Irons in the starting backfield, had an outstanding spring and has improved steadily since, Gran says. Smith can run and block but is perhaps at his best as a receiver in open space.

Stewart, who Gran says is on the verge of being a star, says he and his fellow backs will have to take their opportunities as they come.

"There's no room for egos," Stewart said. "There is a lot of competition. We all just want to contribute the best we can."

Whether either freshman will be part of that mix is yet to be decided.

Tate graduated from high school early, enrolled at Auburn and participated in spring practice. Fannin arrived in the summer.

"Ben has done a heck of a job in terms of running the F position," Gran said. "He's right on track. Will he play this year? I don't know. We have a scrimmage coming up. We'll get him in some situations with the ones. That will say where he fits in this picture."

Fannin, Gran says, has everything it takes to be a standout SEC back. But he has a long climb to earn early playing time. Barring injuries, Gran says no more than one of the freshmen will play. And Tate is in the lead.

"No question about it," Gran said. "Ben is ahead right now. But it's not over."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would rather they let their play speak for them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...