Stewart Making Progress At Running Back

Carl Stewart is trying to establish himself as one of the key parts of the 2005 Auburn football team's offense.

Auburn, Ala.--Carl Stewart is still number two on the tailback depth chart, but he is a more impressive second stringer than he was a week ago.

That is the assessment of Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, offensive coordinator Al Borges and running backs coach Eddie Gran, who says he is encouraged by what he is seeing from the redshirt sophomore as well as first stringer Tre Smith and Kenny Irons.

Stewart, working with both the reserves and the first string offense in Saturday's scrimmage, rushed for 120 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown.

"The scrimmage went well," Stewart says. "There were a lot of mistakes made, but I think we did all right. We need to work on consistently executing our offense. We will have our up days and then the next day we will turn around and go down and look like a different team."

Stewart runs for yardage in an earlier spring practice.

Stewart, who played as a reserve last year at both tailback and fullback, was effective running inside and on the corners in the first spring scrimmage. He says he doesn't have a preference on where the play is designed to go. "It doesn't really matter to me," he says. "I just try to get into a rhythm either way. In high school, a lot of times I ran off tackle."

With tailbacks Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown on the verge of being taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, possibly going early in the first round, the door is open at Auburn for playing time at that position.

"We threw a lot of passes to Ronnie last year and I hope to be able to do that, too," says Stewart. "I worked a lot in the offseason on catching passes.

"I have worked a lot on my speed, too," Stewart adds. "One of my biggest concerns is that they wanted me to put on a lot of weight, but along with that I worked on my speed so I think I have improved a lot."

Stewart, who says he is up to 218 pounds, notes the extra size and strength have made him more comfortable running in traffic. It has also made him tougher to bring down. In contact work this spring, it has often taken more than one defender to stop the big tailback.

After a season as a redshirt and playing during the 2004 13-0 season as a backup, Stewart says that spending time around Brown and Williams has helped prepare him for being a featured part of the offense. "Just having them around and seeing how they handled themselves was a learning experience," Stewart says.

Now that it is Stewart's turn to be in the spotlight, he is excited about the possibilities the 2005 Tigers have. "I think we are going to spread the ball more around this year," Stewart says. "I think we have tremendous potential on offense. Across the board, there is a lot of talent. The receivers, I believe, will be among the best in the nation. We have a lot of athletes at running back and we are going to try to turn some heads this season."

Stewart says it was exciting to have a big day in Saturday's scrimmage, but notes that football is a team game and there is plenty of work to be done on offense. "We made mistakes early in the scrimmage," he says. "The defense was executing and we weren't. A couple of series later we came out and we started doing what we were supposed to do and we kind of turned the tables on them."


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