Wideouts starting to play with confidence

Bryan Matthews, Senior Editor
Auburn Sports

AUBURN | The improvement of Auburn’s offense can be attributed to a lot of factors including a group of young wide receivers that are starting to step forward.

Auburn’s wideouts have caught 10 passes of 20 or more yards in the last three SEC games including a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Stidham to Ryan Davis against Ole Miss last Saturday.

“We’re starting to play with confidence,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Each game we need to get a little bit better. My focus is blocking. We have to get to where we block consistently, and I think we’ve improved.

“Obviously you can see they’re attacking the football better, and they’re wanting to get open. They’re playing with a lot of confidence, but we have to keep improving and keep improving on the blocking.”

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Robin Conn/AuburnSports.com

Davis’ touchdown came on a perfectly executed tunnel screen that included key downfield blocks by receivers Nate Craig-Myers and Will Hastings. Stidham also connected with Kyle Davis on a 31-yard pass and Darius Slayton on a 20-yard pass against the Rebels. Freshman wide receiver Noah Igbinoghene added a 70-yard kickoff return.

“That was really great but we’re still not perfect,” Davis said. “We’ve got room for improvement. It’s definitely exciting to see we’re expecting to score every drive and everybody doing their assignments the right way.”

The return of Slayton from an ankle injury has also boosted the receiving corps. The third-year sophomore has three catches for 88 yards in the last two games including a 19-yard touchdown against the Rebels.

“I think we’ve made great strides in the past few weeks,” Slayton said. “Jarrett is playing really well. The offensive line is doing a great job giving him time, and we’ve been able to make plays for him.”

Stidham is benefitting from the improved play at wideout just as they are benefiting from the sophomore quarterback’s increasing confidence in his offensive line and running the offense.

“They've been improving every single week,” Stidham said. “Our timing is really starting to click, especially on some deeper throws and things of that nature. Those guys, they're working their butts off every single week and my job is just to get them the ball and let them make plays so that's what I'm trying to do.”

No. 10 Auburn takes on LSU at Tiger Stadium Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.

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