AUBURN - Interim Auburn head coach Carnell 'Cadillac' Williams was given a “bombshell” of a week after learning he would take over following the dismissal of Bryan Harsin.
Along with Harsin, offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau and tight ends coach Brad Bedell were relieved of their duties. This left Auburn with no offensive play-caller. Seemingly, Williams had his first task in his new position, find a new play-caller.
“Auburn threw a bombshell on me, so I threw it back on them,” Williams joked.
Williams enlisted the help of offensive line coach Will Friend and receivers coach Ike Hillard to take on the role of calling plays as co-coordinators.
Despite a slow start that saw Auburn only score six points in the first half, Williams did take notice to Friend and Hillard beginning to get more comfortable as the game went on.
“Them guys are like football junkies,” Williams said. “I've got full confidence in that offensive staff and the guys that I'm working with. Honesty, they make my job a lot easier where I can kind of try to do this head coaching thing and touch our players.”
For offensive guard Kameron Stutts there was some familiarity despite the change, as analyst Joe Bernardi would take over the offensive line in response to Friend’s elevation from the position. Fellow analyst Kendall Simmons would also find a new role, leading the tight ends room after Bedell’s departure.
“That's a big opportunity for every coach, getting the step up and do the play-calling,” Stutts said about Friend during the Monday press conference. “I think he did a really good job. We had one of our better offensive games. Having Coach Bernardi and Coach Simmons in there with us — Coach Simmons has been here since I've been here, so having him in that room was really comfortable. We were used to it. That was good. They both did a really good job.”
Despite losing 39-33 to Mississippi State, in a game where the offensive struggles in the first half were more evident than ever, the somewhat thrown together coaching staff showed promise. Leading up to a primetime matchup against Texas A&M this Saturday, where Williams will lead the Tigers out at Jordan-Hare Stadium for his first time as a head coach, his staff will get a full week of preparation for the first time.
“We have some time to truly, not to make any excuses, but we can actually have a whole week where we can really watch Texas A&M and come up with a plan and really attack those guys the way we see fit,” Williams said. “I just think offensively, with us getting this time, we're going to play a lot better. I don't think we're going to get off to such a slow start.”
In preparation for Texas A&M, Williams will voice a straighter forward approach to his co-coordinators. Auburn will still base their offense off the run game but will look to make it even more simplistic to what it already is.
“This is not a week to try to put in all types of looks. Let’s play simple football and get these kids a plan and put them in position where they know the plan and they can go out and execute it,’” Williams said. “From there, at game time, we can make the adjustments that we need to make. To me, right now, less is better. We need to play with effort. We need to play relentless. We need to fight to the end. I think right now, over the X’s and O’s, that’s more important.”