Cadillac Ready To Ride Into Jordan-Hare

In his short career tailback Carnell Williams has already established himself as one of the top runners in the Southeastern Conference.

Auburn, Ala.--He's had big plays, big games and carried the Auburn Tigers to victory over rival Georgia last season. But the one thing he has yet to accomplish is to play well at home.

That looked as if it would happen in last season's biggest game when he broke out of the gate strong against arch-rival Alabama with several big plays. Then things turned sour for the super freshman from Etowah High School. Taking on a horde of Alabama defenders, he went down hard on his shoulder, breaking his collarbone in the process and dashing Auburn's hopes of a victory with a game plan centered around his many talents.

Now healthy again and coming off an impressive but up-and-down performance against the USC Trojans Monday night when he had 97 yards at the half but finished with just 94 for the game, Williams says he hopes to show the home crowd what he has to offer. With big games at Arkansas and the aforementioned Georgia showcase, he says it's time to play the way he knows he can in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Carnell Williams rumbles for yardage against USC Monday night.

"Oh man, yes," he says with a smile when asked if he's ready to play in Auburn again. "That's how I got injured. I feel like we have some of the greatest fans in the country and I'm looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd. Actually, since I've been here I really haven't performed good at home. I'm just looking at having a great game Saturday."

That was almost in jeopardy Monday night as a dehydrated Williams looked to be a step slow against the Trojans in the second half and that caused him to injure his knee slightly during the game. Also battling a slight ankle sprain he suffered during two-a-days, the speedy and elusive back wasn't up to par when he left the field Monday night and uncertainty filled the air about his health heading into this week's game against Western Carolina.

But like he's done many times before, Williams surprised everyone when he reported for practice as usual on Tuesday and, with the exception of a taped up ankle on Wednesday, appeared to be full speed as the Tigers took the field for the evening practice.

"I feel fine," Williams says. "I feel like everything is back to normal. I'm just ready to play Saturday. I kind of tweaked it, but that's football. You're going to have little bumps and bruises. You just have to play through it.

"In high school you kind of get bumps and bruises and it's just something that I've learned I'm going to have to play with. I have kind of learned how to play through it so the few bumps and bruises I do get aren't going to affect me in any way."

Now that the injury questions were settled, Williams also discussed the cramping issue that plagued him Monday night. One of the best athletes and hardest workers on the Auburn team, it was surprising to see Williams having troubles with the California heat on Monday, but he notes there is any easy explanation for what happened to him--he didn't eat well before the game. Having just a light breakfast of pineapple and drinking apple juice during the day, Williams says he just didn't give his body the fuel it needed for the game, but that's something he won't do again.

"I didn't really feel bad," Williams notes. "I believe the main reason that caused it is I didn't eat too much of the pre-game meal. I was trying to drink a lot of fluids and my stomach felt very bloated. I believe that's what caused it."

Ready to move forward with the season and get the Tigers on the winning track, Williams says he sees brighter days for an offense that had just 35 yards of total offense in the second half against USC. With a larger play book for this week and a healthy Williams, things could be looking up for a much-maligned unit this week, Williams says.

"Hopefully, we're going to give the fans what they want to see," he says. "I'm just looking forward to it."

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