Stewart Looking For "Different Mindset" On O

Senior Carl Stewart talks about Auburn's offense and what it needs to improve before Saturday's game against South Florida.

Auburn, Ala.—Auburn senior running back Carl Stewart has seen a lot of football since arriving on the Plains five years ago. A key contributor each of the last two years for the offense, Stewart notes that one of the keys to a successful offense is to be able to run effectively no matter what the opposition is doing across the ball.

In the season opener against Kansas State, the Tigers didn't do that. Gaining just 67 net yards on the ground, Auburn put too much of the game on the shoulders of quarterback Brandon Cox and a young offensive line. This week against South Florida Stewart says the Tigers must come out and be a different team.

"I think one of the major issues we were having is that we just needed a whole different mindset," Stewart says. "It was the first game and there was a lot of high tension out there. Once we work through all that we're going to be okay.

"Something we always stress is that you can't win a game just throwing the ball," Stewart adds. "We really want to go out there and have a balanced offense, be able to run the ball first and then open up the passing game. They really compliment each other in a way."

In order for that to happen, the Tigers have to become a more physical football team in week two than they were in the opener. Stewart notes there is one easy way for that to happen.

"Just being more aggressive off the ball," Stewart says. "A lot of guys weren't really ready for what the tempo was actually going to be like in an actual game. We had a lot of young guys out there. I think now they really understand what they're into. As the week progresses we're going to work on that."

Although he didn't have a great game, rushing for just seven yards, Stewart yards his biggest contribution in the opening win was being a leader on an offense that featured two freshmen up front getting their first collegiate starts. When things weren't going well in the first half Stewart says they made it a point to stay positive with the young guys on offense to make sure they understood the game isn't over until the final horn sounds.

"You always have to keep your head up," he notes. "I think the tendency for a lot of young guys, particularly in the first game when they're down, is to try to give up and stuff like that. I think we did a good job Saturday just to keep everyone's spirit up and let them know that it was a 60-minute game and not to give up for even one play."

One of the many offensive players who stressed the need for better technique and execution on the field, Stewart says that in the end Saturday's squeaker against Kansas State could be the best thing to happen to this team as it prepares for a tough battle against South Florida and the road ahead in the SEC.

"To get that out early, to test our wills early in the season, is a big thing," Stewart says. "Instead of going somewhere in the middle of the season with a couple of losses, to learn that lesson is good for us early. We can kind of get that out of the way and be more aggressive out there."

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