Auburn's Marcus Davis could see more balls thrown his way
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn said Auburn had a "very spirited practice" Tuesday, moving forward a day after dismissing receiver Duke Williams.
"Our team will be fine. We will move on," said the Auburn coach.
Malzahn dismissed his second-leading receiver Monday night, opening up an opportunity for his other receivers to fill the void during an off-week practice schedule. Indeed, Malzahn said all positions, including Sean White and Jeremy Johnson at quarterback, were open to spark competition
"We're just letting them play," Malzahn said. "We feel good about the way that Sean responded the last two games. We really feel like he did some good stuff, showed us some toughness. But at the same time, we're letting our guys compete."
The competition took on a different look at receiver without Williams.
"You've got Ricardo Louis. You've got Melvin Ray. You've got Tony Stevens. You've got guys we feel very good about," Malzahn said. "Also what it does is it opens up opportunities for some young guys to step up. We feel good about our receiving crew. You could see some really good energy out of the receiving crew today."
The Tigers regrouped Tuesday during its first long practice of this off week. The receivers had a chance to show what they could do.
"There is a different sense of urgency in the receiving group, lot of young guys excited about stepping up, and got that opportunity today," said receiver Jonathan Wallace. "We had a really good practice, lot of guys laying out for balls, making crazy catches. It was really exciting to see. It was a good start."
Louis is Auburn's leading receiver with 19 catches for 193 yards. Williams had 12 catches for 147 yards. Ray has nine catches for 84 yards. The next three leading receivers are running backs Roc Thomas, Kerryon Johnson and Peyton Barber.
Malzahn said Louis "has made some big-time plays at some big-time moments the last couple years. I think he's in a position to really take that next step forward.
"He's been a little banged up. The last couple weeks he hadn't full weeks of practice, and he's probably played at somewhere around 75 percent. We're hoping to rest him up this week. But you can really see his urgency stepping up. Melvin Ray is another guy that has made a lot of big plays for us. Marcus Davis is a guy that's kind of been under the radar that has play-making ability, too. So we feel good about our receivers, and we expect them to make some plays."
As for Williams, Malzahn said he was good with the process that led to the dismissal. "The biggest thing is you're disappointed when you have to get a rid of a player, and you hope that things would be different and you hope that he would've responded differently… I'm just disappointed it didn't work out."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine