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Sammie Coates is back making the big plays for Auburn
Oct. 5, 2014

Auburn's Sammie Coates makes the touchdown catch against Rashard Robinson

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Sammie Coates was Sammie Coates on Saturday night, the guy with the big catches down field, the guy who averaged more than 20-something yards a catch a game last season, the guy who can put up a lot of stats in a short time.
Welcome back, Sammie Coates, you helped Auburn beat LSU 41-7 and will be in the game plan again Saturday when No. 2 Auburn travels to No. 3 Mississippi State in a national headliner.
The junior wide receiver is moving toward full speed and away from an injury that had slowed him during the early part of the season, so much so that he missed the second game of the year. But he signaled he's picking up his comeback with four catches for 144 yards and a touchdown against LSU. He has nine catches for 200 yards in four games, and though that puts him off last year's pace when he had 42 catches, his yards per catch is on the mark. He averaged 21.5 yards per catch last year, the third best average in the nation. He's averaging 22.2 yards per catch this year.
"I've been 100 percent," he said after the game. "I went out there and helped my team win, do what I do to the best of my ability."
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said he's been limiting Coates' work, even holding him to "20-plus plays" against LSU.
"He's still not full speed," Lashlee said. "We didn't play him too many plays. He was fresh when we needed him."
And how. He made a magnificent catch way down the field, hauling in a pass from Nick Marshall that LSU defender Rashard Robinson swatted at hovering mere inches away, but came up with air. Coates came up with the football for a 56-yard TD catch.
Having Coates and big-time newcomer Duke Williams as twin wideouts give Auburn dramatic options. They may be just hitting their stride as Coates heads toward full speed.
Coates was figuring out how to help before then.
"It's just like I go out there and try to help my team out anyway I can," he said Sunday night. "If I can’t run a deep route, I’m going to go out there and block my butt off. It’s what teammates do for each other. You’re going to play for your each other no matter what is going on with your body, you’re just going to fight through it. That’s one thing we learned as a team, we had to be tough. That’s one thing we talk about -- tough and together. That’s what I push through every day. I don’t care if I’m hurt or in pain, I’m going to go out there and give it my all."
Saturday, he was caught in the emotion of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"When you go out there on that field and see your fans out there, you get the same excitement for every game," he said. "Just going out there playing against LSU, getting a chance to beat them for the first time, it was a great feeling."
That long touchdown play set the tone, Lashlee said.
"I thought the play from Sammie got us started," Lashlee said. "It was a great catch. Nick, at least, gave him a chance to make a play. It was really good coverage. Sammie just took the ball and wanted it more and then drug him 9 yards into the end zone.
"That really got us going offensively. I think it got everything going. It got our crowd going. And that's what those explosive plays can do for you."
Explosive plays work. But so do the non-explosive plays in the Gus Malzahn/Rhett Lashlee scheme of things.
"We can go deep, we can throw it short, we can run the ball on you," Coates said. "It's just one of those things that Coach Malzahn brings out. He's going to come out with his game plan, and he's either going to come out wanting to run it on you or he's going to come out wanting to throw it on you. We can do either one with Nick throwing it the way he's throwing it and the way we're running it. It's whatever."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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