Auburn football: Cadillac Williams has the Tigers believing
Not sure I’ve ever seen a fan base or a program so fired up for a 3-6 team. But there it was, fans at a sold-out Jordan-Hare Stadium cheering wildly for their Tigers. What were they so excited about, exactly?
Well, the 13-10 victory against Texas A&M stopped a 5-game losing streak. The Tigers hadn’t lost 6 consecutive games in the same season since 1950.
It held off, for the moment anyway, a losing season, which would be the 2nd in a row for Auburn. The last time the Tigers went back-to-back with losing seasons were the 1998 and 1999 campaigns. Those were the last season with Terry Bowden and the first for Tommy Tuberville, respectively.
Those things are all worth cheering about, but that wasn’t the reason Jordan-Hare went electric on Saturday night. It was lit before the game even kicked off. It was a crowd and a program starving for success, desperate for a change.
And they have it with interim coach Cadillac Williams. In less than 2 weeks he’s flipped the switch. He’s breathing life into a program that coming into Saturday hadn’t won since September. A program in such shambles that it fired the head coach. In just 2 weeks, that’s already become old news. It’s been successfully flushed.
Auburn is back on the winning side. At least it was on Saturday.
It wasn’t particularly pretty but it was impressive, and it was a victory. Both Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter rushed for 121 yards. Robby Ashford managed the game at quarterback. His numbers certainly weren’t eye-opening, he threw for 60 yards (6 for 13) and a touchdown and he rushed for 47 yards (on 16 carries). But he made enough plays to put the Tigers in position to win.
Owen Pappoe recorded a team-high 6 tackles, including 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss. And Alex McPherson booted a pair of field goals. Yes, there were bright spots, as there are in a victory.
The Tigers were motivated. They played tough as always, but with an added layer of passion that wasn’t there for the first 8 games of the season.
They were too buttoned up for former coach Bryan Harsin. Too business-as-usual. Too stuffy. Football with the old regime was, in a word … or 2 … no fun.
That wasn’t the case on Saturday and Auburn looked like a different team. It resulted in a most opportune victory.
Now the Tigers have an opportunity to follow it up with a win next Saturday at home against Western Kentucky. That certainly seems doable, especially now that the Tigers have life again. A win would move the Tigers to 5-6 with a chance to avoid a losing season and at the same time qualify for a bowl game with a win in the Iron Bowl. Those things now appear to be at least possible.
That’s a prospect that didn’t seem feasible just a couple of weeks ago. But Williams seems to have captured the imagination of the majority on the Plains, and he has the players believing again. They play hard, they’ve always played hard. But now, passion and the belief have been added to the mix.
Williams has unlocked the imaginary chains that shackled the Tigers shackled with Harsin. You can feel it. You can feel it in the crowd, and you can feel it on the sideline with the team itself. But more importantly, those players can feel it. They played like it on Saturday, a loose confidence.
Yes, Williams appears to have made a difference. It will be interesting to see if that difference can carry through for the last 2 games of the season, and if so, a possible 3rd (bowl) game.