Sept. 24, 2013
Here comes Auburn's Sammie Coates (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Sammie Coates says Auburn works on the deep ball, that's for sure.
But, "we work on everything."
True enough, but the deep throws seem to find the Auburn wide receiver. He has five of the Tigers' eight longest plays from scrimmage this year, and his six catches of 30 or more yards this season are already four more than any one wide receiver had last year.
Oh, that was Sammie Coates, too.
"Something has to happen every week. It can't be something that happens for just one game," Coates said. "As the season goes on, everybody's going to make big plays. It's something we've got to keep completing."
Auburn isn't competing in a game this week – the Tigers are off this Saturday – but they did practice in full pads Tuesday, a stop along the way to the next game, against Ole Miss on Oct. 5 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Coates will take a team-high 11 catches for 306 yards into that game, sporting a 27.8-yard per catch average along the way.
"They're trying to use me in different ways," he said. "I'm just going to keep working hard so I can be that go-to guy… Or it doesn't matter. I just want to help the team win."
Coates had six catches for 114 yards last season in a year in which Emory Blake had 50 receptions.
"I think from last year to this year it’s a mindset," Coates said. "I was just getting myself back into the game."
Coates was close to playing in 2011, too, but an injury before the season cost him the year.
Now, he said, he's "getting my mind back to just play football and have fun doing it."
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says Coates has emerged because of a growing confidence.
"He believes more and more every day," Lashlee said. "He worked so hard this summer and then at the same time, when you go out and make a few plays, that's about the best thing you can do for your confidence. There are still plenty of things he can work on and he knows that. But he's really getting better each week.
"I think the next thing is just playing experience. He's not a guy who has played a lot of ball and caught a lot of footballs in big, meaningful games. So the more and more experience he gets –just like a Ricardo Louis and all those guys – the better and better we think they'll get."
Coates said Auburn has a variety of options at receiver, even with the loss of Jaylon Denson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against LSU.
"We got a lot of good players that run good routes," Coates said. "That’s all it takes, good routes."
And fewer penalties and other mistakes.
"The little things are killing us. We had a fumble, missed blocks, missed assignment,'" Coates said. "It's just little things we've got to work on."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: