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Auburn will call on veteran receivers in Outback Bowl
Dec. 29, 2014

Quan Bray and C.J. Uzomah celebrate an Auburn touchdown

By Charles Goldberg

TAMPA, Fla.  Gus Malzahn says Auburn's veteran receivers are ready to step in for Duke Williams in the Outback Bowl.

The Auburn coach said Monday the Tigers' leading receiver has been suspended for Thursday's game against Wisconsin, but is practicing and plans to return next season. 

"We played without him a couple of games, anyway. We have some veteran guys we can move around," Malzahn said.

Williams didn't play against Georgia or Samford because of a knee injury and didn't start the final five games. Still, he had seven catches for 121 yards against Alabama.

"We have guys we feel very good about who are veteran guys that have made plays for us the last two years. We have a plan," Malzahn said.

Coates could be a first option. He had 30 catches for 717 yards, good for third on the team in catches. Quan Bray is second with 34 catches for 408 yards.

C.J. Uzomah, a tight end, showed his flexibility by starting in place of Williams in the two games he missed. And the Tigers have big-play receiver Sammie Coates, Quan Bray, Tony Stevens, Ricardo Louis and Marcus Davis to handle the receiving chores.

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Auburn can turn to Uzomah, and others.

"There's a lot of versatility with C.J.," Lashlee said. "Obviously, he hasn't put up big numbers because he's been very selfless here the last two years and moved around and played a bunch of different spots. Credit to him for never getting frustrated, always being a team guy. He's played inside receiver, he's played outside receiver, he's played tight end, he's played H-Back, he's throwing something. So, he's done a little bit of everything and so I would think his length, his size, his intelligence, his versatility would give him a shot."


• Malzahn again said Charlie Harbison will call the defense Thursday, but the defensive players are nonetheless trying to show new coordinator Will Muschamp what they've got.

"Our urgency from our players has been extremely high. They've been trying to impress him," Malzahn said.

Muschamp has been in observation mode during bowl practice.

Malzahn said Harbison was the choice to run the bowl defense because "anytime you have a defense all year, your players know the terminology. You can't come in and change everything."

As far as Muschamp, "he's just been more in observation, evaluating and just trying to get his plan for next year ready," Malzahn said.

On running back Cameron Artis-Payne.

"He's one of those tough guys. We've very proud to have him. He'll be ready to play," Malzahn said.

• On the importance of the Outback Bowl:

"If you win a bowl game, you have momentum all off-season. You're always talking recruiting and all that goes with it," Malzahn said.

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



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