Auburn, Ala.--Auburn has had some tough losses to rebound from over the years, but it's doubtful than many hurt as much as Saturday night's loss to LSU on the road. Playing a team that many think is the most talented in the country, Auburn took a late lead only to see things slip away at the end.
That has made for a lot of questions this week wondering how the Tigers will respond this week against the Ole Miss Rebels. Senior fullback Carl Stewart says that there is no doubt this team will be ready for the Rebels, but the loss to LSU hurts because Auburn did what it needed to do in order to win and it didn't work out. He notes that's not the first time that has happened this year.
"It was really tough," Stewart says. "Usually our résumé for the past couple of years is those types of games we're able to pull them out in the end. This year there have been three games like that where it seems like we've lost on the last play. It's heartbreaking."
While the loss is tough for the players and coaches to swallow, Stewart says that if you play football at Auburn in the SEC you learn to quickly move on because if you don't it will drag you down.
"I try to pride myself on moving on to the next game and realizing that once the game is over there is nothing I can do about it," Stewart says. "As soon as the time ticked off the clock, I moved my mind to Ole Miss."
As one of just a few seniors playing extensive minutes for the Tigers, Stewart is a leader on offense along with Brandon Cox and Cole Bennett. He notes this is a big game for the leaders of the Auburn team to make sure the Tigers hit the field at 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday ready to play a good football game vs. Ole Miss.
"A lot of the younger guys are going to be looking up to the seniors," Stewart says. "They're going to have their heads down after such a big loss. Especially for the seniors, it's our job to keep their heads up and let them know that there is another game coming up Saturday. "The mood is pretty good," he adds. "All we have wanted to do is work as hard as we can and prepare for Ole Miss."
Hard work is something Stewart has never been shy about doing since he arrived at Auburn as a highly recruited running back from Tennessee. Moving to a fullback role early in his career, Stewart has played with intensity and become a threat as a receiver and recently as a short yardage back.
Saturday night he came through in the clutch for the Auburn offense with a one-yard touchdown plunge against LSU. Unlike many fullbacks, Stewart is not one to plow through the line. Instead, he usually chooses to go over the top. Because of that he says he's taken over the Tre Smith role from a few years back.
"I guess so," Stewart says. "That's kind of what people are saying ‘Carl Stewart, over the top on the goal line.' Those are big shoes to fill with Tre, but I'm going to do my best. It felt good. Everybody was kind of thinking it was a hard thing, but from that close to the goal line I better have scored or I would have been on myself pretty hard."
This week Stewart and the Auburn ground game should have a chance to put up bigger numbers against an Ole Miss defense that is allowing 206.9 yards on the ground per game this season. The Rebels are coming off an embarrassing 44-8 loss at home to Arkansas last week and have played poorly at times this year. At other times Ole Miss has played well and lost by six to Florida and three to Alabama. Stewart says Auburn is preparing to see the good Ole Miss team this weekend.
"We definitely don't want to sleep on this team," Stewart says. "They have definitely come out and shown a lot of ability and talent at times then some weeks they seem to be sleepwalking out there. We don't know what team we're going to get so we have to prepare for the best they've got."