Aug 25, 2013
Could 2013 be a breakout year for wide receiver Sammie Coates? (Todd Van Emst photo)
When Gus Malzahn arrived at Auburn in 2009 as offensive coordinator, he was looking for a go-to receiver. He found one where he least expected it.
Third-year sophomore Darvin Adams had caught just three passes in his career. The next two seasons, he caught 112 passes for 1,960 yards and 17 touchdowns. Offensive Rhett Lashlee was a graduate assistant at the time. Now he's searching for another Adams, and he sees some candidates.
"There are three or four guys," Lashlee said. "I'm expecting a lot of (juniors) Quan Bray and Jaylon Denson. (Sophomore) Sammie Coates has been here a couple of years and it's time for him to step up and make some plays. (Sophomore) Ricardo Louis is another one. I think Coach (Dameyune) Craig has done a really good job with that room."
In the beginning, three to play two at safety
Three players have emerged as the leaders the two safety spots. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Josh Holsey, Ryan Smith and Jermaine Whitehead would play in "a three-man rotation."
Waiting the wings is former quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who may contribute sooner than some may think.
"He's still learning. He's doing some really good things," Johnson said.
-- Charles Goldberg
Action at linebacker
Jake Holland and Kris Frost have received plenty of attention at linebacker. But Johnson says Anthony Swain "has had a pretty good week of practice."
Holland figures to start at middle linebacker with Frost backing him up. Frost could play at the other linebacker spot, where Cassanova McKinzy figures to start.
-- Charles Goldberg
Marshall learning as he goes
Lashlee said quarterback Nick Marshall is getting better by the day, but he said he won't have the complete offense at his disposal against Washington State.
"I hate to put a percentage on it," Lashlee said. "With what we've got in that we are repping, I feel good that what we are carrying he'll feel good about. It would be crazy to put the whole thing in Day 1. We didn't do that with Cam or even last year at Arkansas State with Ryan Aplin, who was a veteran guy.
"As the season went on, we started giving more and more freedoms and asking him to do more. It'll be no different with Nick. We'll take what we feel like can win the game and what he can execute."
Marcus Davis likely to play early
True freshman wide receiver Marcus Davis appears likely to get some playing time against Washington State, Lashlee said.
"He just does all the little things," Lashlee said. "I think playing quarterback (in high school) probably helped him. You could tell he wasn't in awe of the moment. He's been steady. I'm not going to say he's made a lot of `wow' plays, though he's made a few.
"He's worked hard. He's listened to what the coaches have said. All the little things we ask them to do, he's done. The bottom line is the guys that just keep showing up practice after practice are the ones that stand out."
Tony Stevens and Dominic Walker, the Tigers' other two freshman receivers, are not likely to play against Washington State. Stevens missed a significant portion of camp with an injury and is likely to eventually play this season. Walker is likely to be redshirted.
Auburn will release a depth chart this week, but defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says the defensive starters "could be a Friday or game-time decision."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: