On Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville neither happened as the home-standing Arkansas Razorbacks throttled the mistake-prone Auburn Tigers 42-17 despite being out-gained 492 to 297 in the yardage department.
Despite the turnovers, penalties and questionable calls that went against the Tigers on Saturday, there was one bright spot for the Tigers. That would be the running of true freshman Carnell Williams. A player who one year ago was running the football against high school defenses, torched the normally stingy Razorback defense for 177 yards on just 19 carries as he almost single-handedly kept the Tigers in the ball game until a late collapse sealed their fate. Despite his big game, Williams says all the yards in the world don't matter if you can't put the ball in the end zone, something Auburn has struggled with of late.
"We gained yards but once we get in the red zone we can't convert," he says. "If we can't convert in the red zone we can't win the big games, the away games. I don't know where the problem is but we're going to go to work this off-week and come back next week and have a better output."
Expecting to see more playing time this week because of his strong play the previous three games, Williams says he spent even more time away from the practice field getting ready for the Hogs and it paid off with a big day.
Williams breaks loose from the pack for a big gainer in the first half.
"I watched film on them all week and I just felt great about it," Williams says about preparing for Arkansas. "I kept telling myself, ‘This is going to be the game I break out, it's time to make some big runs and some big plays,'so coming in I just had that confidence."
It appeared that Williams had given the Tigers just the boost they needed when he broke loose on a 55-yard touchdown jaunt with just 4:14 left in the third quarter to bring Auburn to within four points of Arkansas. Running a play that has become a staple for him this season, Williams notes that he just turned the ball up-field after the pitch from quarterback Daniel Cobb and let his speed do the rest. Running down the Auburn sideline, Williams out raced two Arkansas defenders for the touchdown and Auburn trailed just 21-17.
"That quick pitch is becoming a great play for us," he notes. "The receivers just get a body on a body and I have one man to beat. If I beat him it's a touchdown so that's becoming one of our favorite plays."
Although the Tigers would falter down the stretch, it doesn't diminish the performance of the former Etowah High School star. In fact, his head coach thinks that the way he played Saturday was good enough to earn him a shot at the starting role when the Tigers travel to Georgia in two weeks.
"Carnell is a player," Tommy Tuberville notes. "He came to play and came to play the week before and the week before that. Obviously, we need a lot more like him and he will start the next game. He's earned that. I tell you, I've never seen a player just dominate a defense like he did running the football. We just didn't give him any help making plays when we needed to."