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Applicants for Replacing a Team Leader

By on September 25th, 2013 in Football 11 Comments »

                                            No. 89 blocks for Ricardo Louis against LSU.

It’s an off week for the Auburn Football Team and it may have come at a good time. Not only can a banged up defense use the time to get some guys healthy; but the offense can use the time to find a player to the fill the void left by Wide Receiver Jaylon Denson. The junior underwent surgery yesterday with Dr James Andrews in Pensacola for what may be a season ending injury.

Even though Denson hasn’t gotten the big plays like teammate Sammie Coates, his loss was described by Gus Malzahn as “a big blow.” Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee said the 6’3″, 220 pounder was the leader amongst the receiving corps. He’s an unselfish player who did a lot of things that go unnoticed. The most important of which was blocking on the perimeter, a vital key to Malzahn’s HUNH offense.

Yes it was a big blow because it was beginning to look like Denson and Coates might be poised to take on the roll of the Dynamic Duo of Darvin Adams and Terell Zachary from the 2010 Championship Season. Coates who leads the SEC in yards per catch (27.8) has assumed the mantle of Adams as a legitimate deep ball threat. And Jaylon Denson, was beginning to look like a blocking and possession style receiver of a Terell Zachary.

“Jaylon is one of our most consistent, if not our most consistent, receivers.” Malzahn said. “(Now that) we have an off week, we have a chance to start to develop some of those younger guys and get a plan moving forward.”

Who could step in to the breech to fill the gap?

There are several candidates; five different Tigers caught passes in the LSU game. But receiving is only part of the job task. Sophomore Ricardo Louis at 6’2″ and 215 lbs., has the size to deliver the big blocks. He is tied with Coates for the most receptions (11). Coaches feel like he has big-play potential; maybe he could step up and seize the position.

Lashlee also mentioned sophomore Melvin Ray, a 6’3″ 215 lb. receiver who mostly saw time on special teams last season. However, the two names that have been mentioned a lot this week have been freshmen Marcus Davis and Tony Stevens.

Davis at 5,9 and 176 lbs’ is the smaller of the two but he showed he could be depended on in the clutch when he caught four passes on Auburn’s game winning one minute and 45 second touchdown drive against Mississippi State.

The coaches have really been high on Stevens though. Dameyune Craig says he has moves and quickness that belies his 6’4″ frame and he seems to be over a hamstring injury that hindered him in fall camp. Lashlee mentioned his name as one player who may be receiving more snaps after he had two receptions against the Bengals Saturday. He said Monday that, “(Stevens) and Davis are two guys that we feel like can help us now, and I expect bigger things from Tony moving forward.”

One things for certain, with Georgia and the remaining brutal SEC West schedule ahead, the Tigers need someone to step in to Denson’s role asap. The job description? Must be a good blocker, have good hands, be a disciplined route runner, possess leadership ability, and have an unselfish attitude with a willingness to do the dirty work. Could a freshman fill that bill?  I don’t know. But we may find out.

Who do you think will replace injured Wide Receiver Jaylon Denson?

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  1. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    I said Melvin Ray because to replace Denson you need a big bodied reciever to get that blocking downfield.

  2. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    I always thought Denson was filling a role more like Terrell Zachary did in 2010. Dependable when thrown to, but a very consistent blocker on the edge. Even on some of the “big plays” Zachary was was doing the little things right. He does not get enough credit for our offensive success for 2010 in my opinion.

    Enjoyed the post,
    War Eagle!

  3. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    I voted other because I think Uzomah should get a healthy amount of playing time at WR. He doesn’t have burner speed, but you don’t need that with Coates wide. What we need is the posession receiver that Darvin Adams always could be counted on for on 3rd down. I don’t think any of the other options above meets that description. Even though he has good size, Louis has been very unreliable with his hands and looks EXTREMELY skittish going over the middle. Davis has looked very impressive but I think he is too small to be counted on to block effectively. He has flourished when put in Man situations, and I think that is where he is best suited for right now.

    Uzomah presents huge matchup problems for most defenses. Faster than a LB and much taller and physical than almost any DB that could be put on him. Although not as good of a blocker as Brandon Fulse, he would be more than up to the task blocking DBs on the edge and downfield. CJ fits that hybrid role that is very popular in the NFL right now that strives to create matchup problems. You put him and Coates on one side of the field and that is going to require the safety to lean on that side of the field to help cover them. If Coates goes deep on a fly or post route, CJ should be one on one with a DB on an out route with a superior size ans strength advantage. With our running attack, you can’t afford to cheat a LB to help on coverage with him. We are blessed to have good depth at TE, so I would exploit that during the game as much as I could.

  4. HamiltonAUfan HamiltonAUfan says:

    I Think Ricardo Lewis should replace him at wide receiver ……….because he is tiied with Coates for the most receptions (11) on the team …..


    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      The problem with replacing Denson, is replacing his physiicality and leadership, not the receptions. Denson has never been a factor as a passing option….then again really nobody has for two years….but where he has really contributed is blocking in the running game and WR screens. Like I said above Louis has the frame to do the job, but he hasn’t exhibited the toughness IMO to be counted on to fill the role that Denson was in. Louis is certainly one of Marshalls favorite receivers, although I’m not really sure why that is since he drops as many or more than he catches. He must run good routes….and he certainly has speed to burn.

  5. DothanTiger DothanTiger says:

    I voted for Uzomah. I think he could be the answer if they would move him to receiver and for all the reasons the Colonel listed above.

  6. DaZeD DaZeD says:

    “Whoever” we go to, they must step up. One of the glaring issues with our offense last year, with J. Wallace at QB, we were one-dimensional on the receiving end of passes. Last season it was Emory Blake or “bust”. By the 3rd game of the season, Blake was fighting double teamed coverage the entire game which resulted in Wallace having absolutely no outlet for a viable passing-game. Double team Blake, the defense putting 8 men in the box, and our offense was poised to fail…as we all observed. Even a dual-threat QB couldn’t overcome this stacked deck of cards.

    One ‘viral’ difference this season is the belief across our football program that has the skilled position players believing they can match-up with the competition and we’re seeing this at the WR position already. The # of drops has decreased, receivers are blocking better, and running more disciplined routes. All they have to do now is do their assignments well enough for Marshall to continue his development as an SEC QB and grow under the leadership of Malzahn and Lashlee.

    Good things are headed our way in the next season or two and I firmly believe that we will once again become the bell-cow (no barner-pun intended) of the SEC West.

  7. sparkey sparkey says:

    I’m going with the little guy of course. That guy looks like he could be our Wes Welker. I’m expecting big things from him. He just gets it done some how some way.

  8. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Voted other. I think Tight End Brandon Fulse may be moved to receiver.

  9. […] and even when we get them back, they’ve not been quite 100 percent.” Except for Wide Receiver Jaylon Denson, who was inured in the LSU game, every major injury this season has been to defensive players. At least a dozen defenders have been […]