Smith Off And Running For Tigers

Auburn true freshman running back Eric Smith talks about his debut with the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--When Tony Franklin was hired as Auburn's offensive coordinator many wondered how the running game would fare in the no-huddle spread attack. If the first game of the 2008 season is any indication the Tigers aren't changing their stripes any time soon.

Led by Ben Tate's 115 yards, Auburn pounded ULM for 321 yards on the ground and had just four minus rushing yards on the night. Quarterback Kodi Burns added 69 yards while Brad Lester chipped in with 52. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was a 66-yard performance from freshman Eric Smith.

Bumped up to third team with senior Tristan Davis held out of action, Smith said that it felt good to get off to a solid start in his Auburn career that included his first touchdown.

"Being that it was my first college carry I had been looking forward to it for a long time.," Smith said of getting the butterflies out. "I felt like I did pretty good. Coach (Eddie) Gran told me I did pretty good. There are a couple of things I need to work on but it felt real good to get that out of the way."

A big part of Auburn's special teams Saturday night, Smith was on the field on kickoff and punt duties early in the game. He said that helped him ease into the game and be ready when his number was called.

"I was definitely nervous," Smith said. "Once I got that first hit on the kickoff return out of the way it was downhill from there. I felt pretty good because I was on a lot of special teams. My adrenaline was going pretty good so when I got in to play it felt natural."

While the running game was powerful, the same can't be said for the passing attack. Quarterbacks Burns and Chris Todd combined to complete just 13-27 passes for 85 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Smith said while the offense didn't click they did a good job of answering the bell in the second half and putting some points on the board.

"I feel like we could be a little more focused," Smith said. "We were focused but I felt like we could have been more focused. We didn't underestimate our opponents but I feel like we didn't play to the best of our abilities. That's going to happen. We didn't have the best first half but we came out and made up for it. You see what the end result was. We came out the second half ready to play and we did what we had to do."

With a powerful offensive team in Southern Miss coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium next week, Auburn's offense will need to be a lot more productive if they hope to earn a win over the Golden Eagles. Even with an improved passing attack, Smith said the running game will have to carry its weight just like it did in game number one.

"Me, Ben and Brad were talking about it on the sidelines," Smith said. "Brad was telling us that we've got to step up because it's the running game right now. When we run the ball we've got to make the most of it. You've got to make the most of your touches. Ben was in my ear telling me that I did a good job running the ball. The run game was a big factor tonight and I think we did a good job of stepping up to the plate."

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