Dameyune Craig expecting much out of his Auburn receivers this season
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Dameyune Craig says it's time for him to go back in time, to two years ago, when Auburn turned things around and played for a national championship and to put last season's finish in the past.
"What was the difference? Being demanding," said Auburn's receivers coach Friday.
Craig showed some tough love with receiver Duke Williams last week, who ultimately missed six practices because of a discipline issue. Craig said that's in the past.
"I love Duke as a son," Craig said.
Craig, a former Auburn quarterback who knows a lot about winning, was part of the Tigers' turnaround in 2013, when the Tigers flipped a 3-9 record of the previous staff to a 13-2 record. The Tigers slipped to 8-5 last year.
Enough of that. Now, Craig says he's going back to 2013 when he first got the attention of his receivers on the field and in the meeting room.
"What did I do as a coach was to change the culture of my room? I'm going back to doing everything I did in '13," Craig said. "They had to do it, but once they did it, we had the end result. So why not go back to doing it my way as a position coach?
"As a coach, if I was part of the biggest turnaround in college football history, and you go from 13-2 to 8-5, you have time to reflect on what was the difference. As a coach, 'OK, this is the way I need to be doing things. Be as disciplined as you can, be as strict as you can on everything.'"
Even last year's leading receiver, Sammie Coates, didn't get it at first, Craig said, "until he learned how to practice the way we wanted him to practice. And that's when he took off. Sammie called me and texts me to this day."
Craig is sending a similar message to Williams.
"Duke just needs to do what everyone else is doing. There's a certain standard that we have here at Auburn University as far as the way we're going to practice and being accountable. And that's it. No more, no less, and I can promise you that," Craig said.
Craig dispelled message board chatter.
"There were no altercations between Duke and myself, no words were exchanged. It's, 'you're going to do things the way we want to do them.' It wasn't a big deal. It's that just the way we're going to do things here.
"Duke has never said one word back to a coach. Not one word. He's never talked back, never been disrespectful."
It was Craig who encouraged Williams to return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft in order to play "10 years, not three" of professional football.
"You have a guy to be drafted in the first round, and to be the first receiver taken in the draft. 'Your standards are going to be higher than everybody else's. Your expectations are going to be higher than everybody else's because you're a senior now.' When he decided to come back, I talked to him about my expectations for him, his leadership role and where he needs to be. I told him if he's not doing that, there's going to be repercussions for it. That's the end of it.
"Duke and I have a great relationship, but when I told him when you made the decision to come back to Auburn, your role is going to change."
Craig said it comes down to this: "'This is what you're supposed to be doing with who you are.'"
"You’re a senior. Really, you have to be as hard on some your best players than anybody else because people are going to watch to see how you handle situations, how you practice, are they running on and off the field, are they giving great effort. Sometimes those guys set the tone for the whole team."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine