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A spirit that is not afraid

COLUMN | Auburn receivers need to give offense a chance

Tar'Varish Dawson Jr with the touchdown Sunday.
Auburn football fall camp day 3 shells on Sunday,  Aug. 8, 2021 in Auburn, Ala.
Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics
Tar'Varish Dawson Jr with the touchdown Sunday. Auburn football fall camp day 3 shells on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

If Auburn’s receivers don’t start playing some real football, the Tigers are gonna have a hard time beating Georgia on Saturday, or any other Southeastern Conference team for that matter.

Overthrows and misfires aside, anyone with a good set of eyes that has watched an Auburn game this season has probably questioned the capability of the wide receiver core.

Lackluster is a good word.

Capable, but lackluster.

The Tigers are led by a tight end in receiving for the first time in for who knows how long, as tight ends were thought to be banished during the Gus Malzahn reigning days.

While that may be a breath of fresh air and a buzzword for analysts to chirp about and for reporters to write feature stories on, Auburn is in some real trouble unless one or two receivers step up in the big leagues of SEC play.

What was once thought to be the best one-two punch in the nation with Jarquez Hunter and Tank Bigsby has been dragged down by the wideouts’ inability to separate and keep the defense honest. If the defense is not scared of the pass, what are they gonna hone in on?

The drops didn't start happening just a few weeks ago, Justin Hokanson reported a continuous issue of dropped passes all the way back in fall camp before the season even kicked off. Meaning, all the blame can’t be pinned on now-fired wide receiver coach Cornelius Williams, as most of the staff would have seen the issue in scrimmages and 7-on-7's and should have tried to correct the problem before it became a habit.

While it’s not superb, the talent is definitely there.

 Auburn has multiple 4-star recruits stacked up in its receiving room with Kobe Hudson, who has actually made an impact at times aside from a bad-play call turning into a fumble he was responsible for; Ze’Vian Capers, who has four catches through five games; as well as J.J. Evans and Malcolm Johnson Jr., neither of whom who’ve touched the grass during a meaningful regular season snap. 

Converted quarterback Caylin Newton has been a surprising and much-needed impact maker as well as transfer Demetris Robinson, a former 5-star recruit and proven commodity at Georgia who has yet to have a breakout game in an orange and blue uniform. 

Robinson is the best bet when it comes to being able to trust a receiver, but the receiver has to be able to trust the quarterback as well. Not getting much time to practice with Bo Nix or T.J. Finley by arriving on campus in August, Robinson may have needed a few weeks to settle back into playing shape with an all new team and with all new chemistry to build. 

That has shown with multiple deep balls sailing away from the usually wide-open streaking receiver when one-on-one. Otherwise, one of these young players is going to have to prove why they had a 4-star ranking in the first place.

Coach Williams' firing and possible lack of development can’t be used as a crutch excuse for much longer now that Harsin’s guy, Eric Kiesau, is in place as receivers coach. The offensive coordinator can only do so much to put the receivers in the right position to make a play. And Bo Nix can only run around for so long.

The receivers just have got to catch the dang ball.

We’ve all seen drops by almost every receiver that has played a snap for the Tigers and unless that gets corrected, it’s gonna be a long season on the receiving end.

If there’s any game for Robinson to steal the spotlight in, it’s on Oct. 9 against his former team in a home rivalry game with the brightest eyes looking on.

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Larry Robinson | Photo Editor

Larry is a senior studying journalism with a minor in sociology. He is from Enterprise, Alabama and is in his third year with The Auburn Plainsman. 

Twitter: @ReportingLarry

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