Carnell (Cadillac) Williams was rolling. The Auburn tailback
entered last year's Iron Bowl battle with Alabama having rushed
for 344 yards in the previous two games. The Tigers were 7-2 and
needed a single win in their final two games to clinch the SEC
West title. Cadillac, then a freshman, tore off 25 yards on the
game's first play with a breathtaking run in which he reversed
field after getting bottled up. But after his fifth carry of the
drive Williams dragged himself to the sideline, his left
clavicle broken. Thus ended the season for both Williams and
Auburn, which was rolled by the Tide 31-7 and finished 7-5.
"When Carnell got hurt you could just tell that everybody else
lost their confidence," says Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville.
With Cadillac--the 5'11", 193-pounder got the nickname for his
smooth running style while at Etowah (Ala.) High--in the shop for
the rest of the season, the focus was on the quarterback duel
between sophomore Jason Campbell and senior Daniel Cobb, who
split duties last year. That proved the undoing of offensive
coordinator Noel Mazzone, who was replaced in January with Bob
Petrino, the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The battle between Campbell and Cobb, who received a sixth year
of eligibility from the NCAA for 2002 but has seen just eight
games' worth of action, will continue into two-a-days.
The defense, which has a new coordinator of its own in Gene
Chizik, should be strong. Seven starters are back, including
junior outside linebacker Dontarrious Thomas (a team-best 122
tackles in '01), who heads a deep and talented linebacking group.
Senior placekicker Damon Duval was a finalist for the 2001 Lou
Still, when Tuberville sits down at Byron's barbecue joint for
his weekly lunch with the Auburn faithful, much of the talk will
be about how well Cadillac is running. His teammates, who are
tired of trying to tackle the now-healthy Williams in practice,
are eager to see him set loose on opponents again. "When he got
hurt, it made us a little flat," says junior linebacker Karlos
Dansby. "But now he's patched up and ready to ride." --P.M.
COLOR PHOTO: DANNY JOHNSTON/AP GAME BREAKER The Tigers were 7-2 last season before Williams went down with a broken clavicle; they then lost three straight.
2001 RECORD: 7-5 (5-3, T1 in SEC West)
FINAL RANKING: not ranked
Consecutive losses by the Tigers to end the 2001 season, the
team's longest year-end losing slide since it dropped four
straight in 1976.
An opposing coach's view
Quarterback is the last puzzle piece for the talented Tigers
"If they get the quarterback squared away, they'll be really good.
Jason Campbell was just young last year, and young is scary with
the speed and athleticism in this league.... Tailback Carnell
Williams is a difference maker. They'll give it to him 35 times
and control the game.... Tight end Lorenzo Diamond is athletic
and strong and tough.... They've got a good defense. Tackle
DeMarco McNeil is quick for a big man and plays hard.... In Damon
Duval they have the best kicker in the league. He'll win three
games by himself."
Sept. 2 at USC
7 WESTERN CAROLINA
19 at Mississippi State
Oct. 12 ARKANSAS
19 at Florida
Nov. 2 at Mississippi
23 at Alabama