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Auburn receivers stepping up after loss of Duke Williams
Nov. 10, 2014

Duke Williams with his one catch against Texas A&M, his 38th of the season

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says he isn't sure when leading receiving Duke Williams will return from a knee injury, but he's thankful he has an experienced receiving corps to fill in heading into Saturday's game at Georgia.

Williams was hurt in the second quarter of last weekend's loss to Texas A&M, but Auburn's offense kept firing as more receivers made plays. Eight players would eventually make catches, including Quan Bray, who had six. Auburn still had a whopping 582 yards of offense.

"That was one of the positives," Malzahn said on Monday's Tiger Talk radio show. "You lose one of your top players, and when he went down a little air was out of our offense, probably for a series. They were a little bit in shock. 

"But they put that behind them and moved on. We had some other guys step up. Obviously, Duke was a big part of our game plan going in, and we had to mix and match, and move some people around. I felt like they responded well."

Malzahn's official injury report on Williams: "I think it's going to be a week-to-week deal. We'll just see how quick he heals. He's a big part of our offense. Hopefully, we'll get him back."

Melvin Ray was one of the players who filled in.

"Melvin has had a very solid year. He's got a lot of winner in him. We have a lot of trust in him," Malzahn said. 

Malzahn said Ray can play any of the three receiver positions. Plus, "all the receivers are back from last year, and they led us to the national championship game. We have a lot of confidence in that group. We just have to put the guys in the right position."


• Malzahn said the 41-38 loss to A&M was tough on his players. 
"They were very disappointed after the game, and they should have been. I told them that's OK. We felt sorry for ourselves, we were disappointed that night. But it's time to turn the page. We have our hands full with this next one."

Malzahn said the players were OK at practice Sunday. "I really felt they had the right attitude."

• Malzahn said he puts his seniors on a "pedestal to lead us. We're going to lean on them to bounce back."

• Basketball coach Bruce Pearl was also on Tiger Talk, with some bad news. He said Matthew Atewe injured the same leg that suffered a stress fracture last season. Eventually, a rod was inserted in the leg. He reinjured his leg in last Friday's exhibition game.

"We think he reopened that up slightly. He's got to be out until it gets healed up fully," Pearl said.

With Atewe out, Auburn is down to nine scholarship players eligible to play this season.

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



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