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Auburn happy to welcome back Duke Williams for Iron Bowl
Nov. 25, 2014

Auburn hoping Duke Williams will be back catching passes against Alabama

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Auburn is expected to welcome back leading receiver Duke Williams for the Iron Bowl, but will be without starting defensive end DaVonte Lambert for the rest of the year after he underwent knee surgery this week.

The comings and goings are part of the backdrop leading up to Auburn's date with Alabama at 6:45 p.m. Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

Williams missed the last two games after he hurt his right knee early against Texas A&M on Nov. 8, but still leads Auburn in receiving with 38 catches for 609 yards and five touchdowns. 

"I don't know if he's 100 percent, but we're expecting him to play," said coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday.  "He's one of our playmakers. He's had an outstanding year, and he has the ability to make one-on-one plays and plays in traffic.

"If you’re a quarterback, you always have certain receivers you feel comfortable with, and after you play with them and give you confidence, they can make a play for you if you put the ball in a certain area and all that. That’ll definitely be a plus."

Lambert departs after starting the last nine games at defensive end. He's tied for 10th on the team with 24 tackles. 

"That's a big blow for us. We're going to need some guys to step up," Malzahn said.

"Football's a team game and when you're playing against your rival, it's got the ability to have guys step up and play better than they have all year, and that's what we need."

Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker will also miss his third straight game, but receiver Ricardo Louis will return after missing last week's win over Samford. Malzahn said he expects everybody else will be available.

The return of Williams and Louis could bolster the passing game.

"To get both those guys back on the field, that’ll get things back into balance better than it has been the last few weeks," Malzahn said.


• There's been no bulletin board material from the Auburn camp this week, and Malzahn continued complimenting Alabama during his weekly press conference Tuesday.

"They've got one of the better offenses in all of college football, led by their quarterback Blake Sims, who I think has had an outstanding year," Malzahn said. "He's very efficient with the ball, protects the ball. He's got the ability to hurt you with his legs, too.

"Amari Cooper is one of the better playmakers in all of college football, if not the best playmaker. He's a special player. Add to that a very good running game, so they present a lot of challenges offensively.

• Auburn practiced Monday and was ready for practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. And Thursday.

"We'll have a Thanksgiving practice and then we'll have a Thanksgiving meal with our team and coaches and everything with that," Malzahn said. "We'll give them some time that afternoon and of course, bring them back later that evening. Thanksgiving, we definitely want to celebrate that. We got a lot to be thankful for."

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



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