Auburn, Ala.--Sophomore Carl Stewart admits the Tigers need to improve their running game as his team prepares for game three vs. Ball State.
However, the 6-1, 218-pounder says he is optimistic that will happen.
“I think as time goes along the running game is going to be a self-correcting problem,” he says. “I think our biggest problem now is maturity level. As we all mature as a group, I think it will improve greatly.
“A lot of us don’t have much game experience,” Stewart notes. “I have have very limited game experience. The one with the most experience is Tre (junior Tre Smith), and he missed all of last season.
“This is a new season for us,” adds Stewart, who says the tailbacks and the offense are still trying to get into a rhythm.”
Carl Stewart is covered in practice by linebacker Chris Evans.
Through two games, Stewart and Smith are tied for the team rushing lead with 62 yards. Smith has run the ball 18 times, but he is questionable for Saturday’s home game vs. Ball State with a twisted MCL.
Stewart has 14 carries for an average of 4.4 yards per run. Brad Lester and Kenny Irons have each netted 34 yards. Lester is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and Irons 2.4.
“Last week we made it a point of emphasis to establish a running game,” Stewart says of Auburn’s 28-0 victory over Mississippi State. “Now we want to smooth out the rough edges and get something proficient going.”
Auburn coaches say they might drop their tailback by committee approach and pick two players to get most of the action at the position. “We always see it as a competition and challenge, but it is something we are not going to worry about too much,” Stewart says. “We are just going to all go out there and play to the best of our ability.”
Despite being better than a 30-point favorite vs. the Mid-American Conference opponent, Stewart says he believes his team will not have a letdown this week against Ball State. “We take every game seriously,” he notes. “I think for a lot teams it is easy to slip into some type of complacency against a team that is not very well renowned.”
Stewart adds that it is important for the Tigers to use Saturday’s game, as well as the Western Kentucky game a week later, as opportunities to improve as a football team. He also says that he believes Auburn fans will see a more productive running game vs. the Cardinals.
“There were sparks and some fires last week when we started to get into a rhythm,” he says. “I think we are going to pick up where we left off last week.”