Sophomore Running Back Steps Up For Tigers

Ronnie Brown discusses his opportunity as the new starting tailback for the Auburn football Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Redshirt sophomore Ronnie Brown says he isn't happy with the way he inherited the starting job at tailback, but says he is ready to carry the load for the Tigers and prove he belongs there.

Considering his impressive performance in relief of Carnell Williams after the Cadillac was lost for the season with a broken fibula on Saturday night, Brown looks like he is ready for the challenge. He carried the football 22 times and netted 163 rushing yards as the catalyst for Auburn's comeback vs. the Florida Gators. He scored all three of Auburn's touchdowns--two on running plays and a third on a 54-yard pass play that was mostly running by Brown.

"Ronnie Brown was really impressive to step in like he he did," says quarterback Jason Campbell. "He did a great job."

A year ago, Brown was playing in a reserve role while fighting a turf toe injury, a shoulder problem and a thigh injury. Critics said that the big back from Cartersville, Ga., wasn't fast enough for the position, however, his teammates and coaches knew better.

Ronnie Brown

"It was kind of frustrating when you can't do the things you know that you are capable of doing," Brown remembers. "When you have nagging injuries and can't produce like you want to, it does affect you. It does play with your mind. You just try to block all of that out and keep playing."

In the offseason, Brown worked hard in strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall's program. A year earlier, he had intentionally added weight so he could run with more power. However, this year he went the opposite direction and dropped 10 pounds. Now at 6-1, 217, he is a step quicker and still has plenty of power.

"Me losing that weight, getting that little bit of extra speed and studying film more and learning more about the game of football has made me a little more dangerous than I was last year," Brown says.

Brown saw action in 11 games last season as a redshirt freshman and started five times. He finished the season with 330 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 3.9 yards on 94 carries. This season, he has averaged 6.4 yards per carry and has 340 yards on 53 carries with four rushing touchdowns and one as a receiver. He is expected to start on Saturday when the Tigers play LSU at 11:30 a.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Tiger Ticket Extra: On his first touchdown run, a 26-yarder in the second quarter, Brown turned a fourth and one play into a big gainer. He was originally planning to dive over the pile, but after fullback Brandon Johnson helped create a running lane the plan changed, Brown says. "At first I was just trying to get the first down, but then after the hole opened up B.J. made a great block and I saw daylight. I was like, ‘OK, gather your feet.' I did that and I was able to get to the end zone."...Brown actually had his first carry of the game as a fullback...He says with the offseason Yoxercise program that is a part of, he says that he is ready to carry the football 25 times a game if needed. Auburn coaches say they believe Brown is ready to carry a heavy load, however, there are plans to spell the sophomore with junior Chris Butler and freshman Tre Smith...Brown rushed for 1,931 yards as a senior at Cartersville High, where he was named Georgia Class AA Player of the Year. Brown's 163 rushing yards are the most he has had in a game since running for 180 on 20 carries in leading his team to the title at the state championship game.

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