Auburn football: RB duo similar to Cadillac Williams' playing days
Cadillac Williams has found a formula for success as interim coach at Auburn. It’s familiar, a no-brainer if you will, that the former Tigers running back, who still holds records at the school as a player, fully understands.
As a top running back at Auburn from 2001 to 2004, Williams experienced success both individually and with the team. In his All-American senior season he helped lead Auburn to an undefeated season, a win in the SEC Championship game and a No. 2 final ranking. Auburn won 3 SEC West titles in Williams’ 4 seasons on the Plains.
The native of Gadsden, Alabama, by way of Etowah High School set the school’s career record for rushing attempts (741), passing Joe Cribbs, and most rushing touchdowns (45), passing the legendary Bo Jackson. For his career, Williams amassed 3,831 rushing yards, 2nd all-time at Auburn.
Sure, Bo “knows,” but there’s no question that Williams knows a thing or two about the running game as well. He was a 1st-round draft pick and the 2005 Rookie of the Year. He played 7 years in the NFL, rushing for 4,038 yards and 21 TDs.
So, it should come as no surprise that the Tigers have leaned on the ground game in his 3 games in charge. Williams’ influence has produced 2 100-yard rushers in each of the past 2 games.
That’s an impressive stat on its own, but it holds even more weight when you consider that Auburn struggled previously to have just 1 player reach 100 yards on the ground this season.
That’s how he did it back in his playing days. Williams shared rushing duties with Casinious Moore in 2001 and then with Ronnie Brown from 2002 through 2004.
Call him old-school if you must, but Williams is reviving that 1-2 punch concept at Auburn today. And it doesn’t hurt to have a nimble-footed quarterback like Robby Ashford to add to the mix.
In the most recent victory against Western Kentucky, running backs Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter topped the century mark (with 110 and 109 yards, respectively), while averaging 6.1 and 8.4 yards a carry, respectively. In the victory against Texas A&M, each player rushed for 121 yards.
Williams’ 1st game as interim coach came after a short and hectic week of preparation. Against Mississippi State, it was Ashford who led the ground attack with 108 yards and 2 TDs. Bigsby was solid with 89 rushing yards (and 1 TD).
In this day of high-scoring, up-tempo, pass-happy offenses, Williams (so far) has won with a solid run game. Yes, it’s old-school, it’s basic, it’s fundamental football.
That’s a kind way of saying: It’s boring football by today’s standards.
On the other hand, there’s nothing boring about winning, and that’s what Williams has begun to do. He’s got the Tigers on a 2-game streak and still alive for a possible bowl game. That’s a prospect nobody would have anticipated a few weeks ago when Auburn was just looking to avoid embarrassment. Now, because of Williams and his old-school brand of football, the Tigers are able to at least hold up their collective heads.
They are 3-plus-touchdown underdogs in the Iron Bowl. That’s what you would call a “prohibitive” underdog. But what were the odds just a couple of weeks ago that Auburn would even be in a position to win and get to the postseason?
What were the odds that Williams would be named interim coach and have an opportunity with a victory on Saturday to dare Auburn administration not to give him the gig full-time?