If They Throw it, Will Anyone Catch It?
There were many epic collapses as Auburn made its descent from national champions to the worst team in the SEC last season. Few were more glaring than at the wide receiver position.
There was plenty of blame to go around, but no one deserved more credit than former assistant coach Trooper Taylor. As good as he was a recruiter, he was equally bad at developing wide receivers.
Despite having some of the top prep talent in the South, few developed into big-time playmakers on his watch. News that sophomore Ricardo Louis is starting to bloom should be music to Tiger fans ears.
Then again, we’ve heard this story before.
Despite being ranked the fifth-best athlete in the country coming out of Miami Beach High School in 2011, Louis never got going last season, catching only three balls for 36 yards.
Last year this time, his teammates were saying similar things in fall camp, noting his big playmaking abilities and lightening speed. Then he disappeared – along with the rest of his team.
Things are expected to be different this time around. New wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig has taken note, saying Saturday that Louis, “May be one of the fastest guys he’s ever been around.”
Talking about both Louis and fellow receiver Sammie Coates, Craig heaped more praise. “They can stretch the field, burn people, they’re strong,” he said. “Big guys, they’re physical, they just have to learn to play.”
Considering the coaching they’ve had since arriving on campus, it’s safe to say Craig has a blank slate to work from this year.
Coates was outspoken in his criticism of the team last season. His most memorable actions were off the field when he called out his fellow teammates, something that didn’t sit well with everyone.
“Everybody talks about wanting to win, but nobody is showing how they want to win,” Coates said last October. “Everybody isn’t buying into it”
He says that’s all in the past now.
“We’ve got a new offense, new coaching staff, so I think we’ve all got to step up as a group, be one family. And all wide receivers have to come together and play together because we don’t have that many right now.”
Auburn returns five scholarship wide outs, but they accounted for less than half of the production last fall. With Emory Blake taking his nearly 800 yards in receptions to the NFL, Coates and Ricardo must pick up the slack.
His six catches for 114 yards last year will not cut it in Gus Malzahn’s offense. Coates believes this offense is made for him and his teammates.
“This offense is made for each wide receiver to make plays,” Coates said. “We’re looking forward to making all the plays we can as a team and as a wide receiver group because we’ve got the best wide receivers group, I think, around.”
Let’s hope this October his actions take place only on the football field.
“This year I know it’s a new beginning.”