Junior linebacker Jake Holland, who has played in 26 games and started 11 (as opposed to five and zero for Coates) does believe in the Tigers’ leadership structure, even as young players like Coates express similar frustrations to older players like cornerback T’Sharvan Bell and receiver Travante Stallworth.
“We have leaders on this team; I have to disagree with Sammie on that,” Holland said. “The leadership on this team has been the same since day one, you know, and the seniors are doing a good job of that.”
Earlier Tuesday, Coates said of Auburn coaches challenging the players, “They put it on the older guys, but they aren’t showing much. Coach always talks about leadership, and nobody’s trying to be a leader. They talk about it all the time, but you don’t see it. You talk about how you want to be a better man and a better football player, but nobody’s stepping up to the plate and taking advantage of that.”
Asked how he feels about a young player speaking out – regardless of whether Holland agrees with the particular comments – Holland said, “”Yeah, I agree with the fact that things have got to change. Things have got to change in the fact that we’ve got to start winning, but I disagree with the fact of what he says about the leadership. I think the leadership’s there, and you know, it’s just about taking the leadership that we have and moving toward the goal we want to do, and it’s just going to take work.”
Holland previously had said, “I think when you don’t start out the way you want, you kind of start pointing fingers, but you can’t do that.”
He specifically added “I don’t see finger-pointing” later in his conversation with reporters.
“I think a lot of the young players, people that haven’t been in the system a while at this level, I think in human nature, you might want to start pointing fingers,” Holland said. “But if we’re going to stay together as a team, the leaders can’t allow that.”