BY RYAN BLACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
It might be him, for all he knows. The only thing he could say for certain is that the Tigers will have a deep pass-catching corps this fall.
“Everybody’s making plays,” he said following Tuesday morning’s practice. “We’ve got a lot of fast wide receivers, so it’s going to be amazing this year.”
Coates is just happy to be working in an offense that better suits his game. The pro-style scheme of former offensive coordinator was a bad fit, he said, mixing together about as well as oil and water. But Gus Malzahn’s hurry-up, no-huddle attack is tailor-made for the sophomore, the system he was originally recruited to play for Auburn.
“That’s all I know is the spread,” he said. “So it made me smile a lot just to go back to it.”
Greater comfort came with the experience Coates has gained over time. The game has slowed down for him, which he feels will only lead to good things this fall and in years to come.
“When I was a freshman, it was kind of hard, because I just had to get used to everything,” Coates said. “As soon as I got used to it, I knew what I’m doing, it’s a whole lot easier.”
It just hasn’t come to fruition in the form of touchdowns during fall camp. That doesn’t bother Coates, who said his sole objective is making “explosive plays.” The touchdowns will follow later.
And not just for him, he said, but the rest of Auburn’s skill players, who he claimed have had no problems adjusting to the lightning-quick tempo at which Malzahn’s offense operates.
“We’re keeping up with what’s going on, we’re getting along with the plays and we’re keeping up with the pace,” Coates said. “Everything’s looking really good.”
Freshmen duo of Davis and Ford catch Lashlee’s attention
When asked which freshmen skill players have stood out so far, it didn’t take long for offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to come up with a pair of names: wide receiver Marcus Davis and running back Johnathan Ford.
“You can tell that playing quarterback in high school helped him,” Lashlee said of Davis. “The game doesn’t move too fast. He’s got the great attitude. He’s what we wanted, what we thought. He’ll be pushing to get in the mix.”
Coates has already seen it enough during practice.
“(Davis) has been doing an amazing job,” Coates said. “He’s been getting off the ball, he’s real quick and makes good catches.”
Ford, who the coaching staff has already taken to calling “Rudy,” is similar to Corey Grant in many ways, Lashlee said.
“They’re really fast guys,” he said. “Corey is bigger. He’s a junior and has been in college longer. I think Rudy is one of those guys, when he gains 10, 12 pounds over the next year or two, it will really help him. But he can really run. More than anything, there’s no fear.
Demetruce McNeal returned to practice on Monday, which marked the first time he had been healthy enough to take part in fall camp. But fellow defensive back Jonathan Jones wasn’t sure if the senior safety was out there during Tuesday morning’s team activities. “I don’t even know,” he said. “I didn’t see. You have to ask Coach (Malzahn) about him.