Williams Continues To Grow

Freshman tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams hopes to shift into a higher gear for the second half of the 2001 season.

Auburn, Ala.--Just one year removed from playing high school football, tailback Carnell Williams has already seen his share of big-time moments for the Auburn Tigers in 2001. None has been bigger than the two carries Williams had to set up Damon Duval's game-winning field goal to beat Mississippi State last Saturday night.

With starter Casinious Moore worn down after running the ball five straight plays, Williams was called on to pick up the slack and the small but tough freshman delivered. Two runs and seven yards later, the Tigers had a 16-14 victory and were still standing alone in first place in the SEC West heading into this weekend's showdown.

Carnell "Cadillac" Williams on the run.

"I'm more relaxed out there on the field now," he says. "I'm not uptight, I don't feel like I have to make a big play every time I touch the ball. I'm just more relaxed and things are coming to me slowly. I'm learning as the season goes on. That was a real confidence boost for me to be in the game late like that.

"Basically, I was like, ‘Man, I cannot fumble this football. I'm just looking for a hole and I'm going to get what I can get and get us in field goal range'. "CMo" (Moore's nickname) had some real good runs but he got kind of winded and they put me in."

The confidence that he can deliver in the clutch against SEC caliber competition should do nothing but help Williams as the next challenge comes his way. For the Tigers that means the biggest challenge of the year, the number one Florida Gators. Fresh off a 44-15 drubbing of the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, the Gators come to Jordan-Hare Stadium on fire both offensively and defensively. Williams says this is the game you dream about when you're growing up.

"This is exciting as it gets. The number one team in the country on national TV, everybody is going to be tuned in. This is what you come to Auburn for, this is what college football is all about. I'm really looking forward to this weekend."

Though he has just 128 yards on 31 carries with one touchdown, a 51-yarder against Vanderbilt, Williams has become a key part of this Tiger offense in other ways. He has four catches for 48 yards on the season and has become a solid blocking back for Jason Campbell when other teams blitz the freshman quarterback. That factor alone could be important this weekend as the Tigers face one of the top defenses in the country in the Gators.

"I watched their defense Sunday and Tuesday morning and their defense is very good," Williams says. "At first I didn't notice their defense being that good, I only saw their offense putting up all those points. They have a pretty good defense."

Now that the game is on the verge of kicking off, Williams says Auburn doesn't need any motivation to play this game. With all that's on the line, that's taken care of.

Carnell "Cadillac" Williams

"This is the Florida week," he says. "Everybody is familiar with Florida, the number one team in the country. Great program, great coach, great players. We're going to go out and try our best and give all out effort. They're coming to our place so that's going to help."

Playing in a place where you've won 10-straight games certainly can't hurt.

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