AUBURN —With starting slot receiver Quan Bray suspended for Saturday’s football game with Arkansas as a result of his arrest last Thursday, the Auburn wide receiver corps will have its depth tested.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik called out his receivers Tuesday.
“They’ve got to grow up, they’ve got to step up and they’ve got to play better. It’s that simple,” Chizik said. “They’ve got to play better. If the ball hits them in the hands, they’ve got to catch the ball.
“We haven’t done that every time. When we ask the route to be at 15 yards, it needs to be at 15 and not 12; we haven’t done that all of the time. That whole group of receivers from top to bottom – it doesn’t matter who is playing in the game – they’ve got to improve their game, they’ve got to step it up and they’ve got to be productive.”
Bray was arrested for driving with a suspended license and possession of alcohol under 21 years of age during a traffic stop on the campus of the University of West Georgia last Thursday night.
Chizik said Bray, who has 11 receptions for 82 yards and five punt returns for 23 yards, will be out for this week’s game. His return is uncertain.
Trovon Reed will take the place of Bray in the slot and is the leading candidate to return punts. Reed has just one reception for 17 yards this season.
Sammie Coates may also see more opportunities. Coates, who had a 33-yard touchdown catch on a Hail Mary before halftime against Louisiana-Monroe, did not have a reception against LSU but dropped a deep pass on the second play of the game.
“I should have caught that ball. That’s a big play,” Coates said. “That would have been a big turnaround in the game. It hurt me pretty bad. … I look at that catch like I probably could have won the game with that catch. It still kind of bothers me now.
“I’ve been working hard trying to get better and I’m going to make the big play the next time.”
Emory Blake remains the brightest star among the Tigers receivers. Blake, a senior, leads Auburn with 12 receptions for 222 yards and one touchdown but has just two catches in each of the past two games with a greatly scaled back passing attack and opponents throwing double-teams at him.
Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor has been complimentary of Blake’s leadership and Chizik gave him praise and used him as an example the rest of the Tigers receivers need to follow.
“He is not afraid to compete,” Chizik said. “When the game is tight and is on the line and we have got to have a catch, if we put that ball somewhere around him, he’s usually going to catch that. That’s just called delivering as a receiver. That’s what their job is. That’s why they are on scholarship. They’ve got to be able to do that.
“The problem we have right now is we don’t have enough guys right now that are living the same life, and so the younger guys right now are going to have to come on. We have talked to them this whole week about the level of consistency of their play – it’s not acceptable. They’ve got to look at Emory, they’ve got to see what it looks like – he’s been doing that for his career.”
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