July 15, 2009

High expectations for senior tailback

When Ben Tate's career comes to an end after this season, he should easily be among the Top 10 rushers in Auburn history.

That's pretty good considering the long list of talented tailbacks that have suited up in orange and blue over the years. But that's not enough for Tate.

He wants much more.

"A successful senior year for me would probably be averaging five yards a carry, around like 14 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards rushing," Tate said. "That would be a very nice, successful senior year and I think that would just silence all the critics that I do have."

Tate has rushed for 1,959 yards and 14 TD's his first three seasons, ranking 14th on AU's career list, only 227 yards behind Kenny Irons in 10th.

If he meets his goals this season, he could move all the way up into fifth and certainly silence two of his biggest critics -- himself and his father.

"I was disappointed in my season last year and I definitely heard it from the most critical person -- my father," Tate said. "I can remember I averaged 4.2 yards a carry. That's just not going to cut it. It's four yards. Yeah, you'll take it, but for me that's just not going to cut it. I think a couple games I had like 30 yards. That's just not going to get it.

"It's just things like that that while I'm working out and while I'm running, when it gets tough that's what I think about."

There wasn't much Tate could do last year with an offense that stumbled out of the gate and lost its coordinator midseason. Less than a year later, Tate has learned a new offense and adjusted to an entirely new coaching staff.

It's an offense that 254.9 rushing yards per game under Gus Malzahn at Tulsa last year. And it's an offense Tate feels is perfectly suited to his abilities.

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