The junior pointed out that he has very high expectations for the group coached by Dameyune Craig, which he said will be “dangerous” for opponents to deal with this fall.
“We come a long way,” Louis said when asked about the improvement under Craig, who began coaching them in spring training 2013.
“He has taught us a lot,” Louis said. “There were a lot of things we didn’t know. We were out their just running and catching, but we didn’t understand the concepts of certain fundamentals of playing receiver. That is what Coach Craig brought to us.”
Ricardo Louis is shown at Friday's practice.
Louis said the wide receivers, as a group, have been focused on getting better since spring practice ended.
“We worked together a lot this summer and we worked on the specific routes we know we are going to run,” he said. “We are going to be moved around a lot so we are going to have to be relaxed with it--not too uptight about everybody having to move around and not having a specific spot so we are just going to work together as a team.”
Louis said that he has been impressed with the way that quarterbacks Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson and Jonathan Wallace have been throwing the football. The receiver added that he does not believe it will be a problem with Johnson filling in for Marshall as the starter in game one vs. Arkansas as part of Marshall’s punishment for an off-the-field incident.
Louis noted that Marshall has not let the problem distract him in preparing for the season. “He has been the same way,” the receiver said. “He is still working hard. He is still leading. He is still trying to get better every day.”
Louis said the team has confidence that Johnson can get the done as a starter and noted that Marshall will be available for action vs. the Razorbacks. “I think he’s been handling it pretty well,” Louis said of Johnson being the starter for the opener. “Like I said, he’s been more confident going into his second year. He started a couple of games last year (actually one), and that’s going to carry over for him by getting more reps and being more confident in throwing the ball and running the offense.”
While Marshall is not going to start vs. Arkansas, Gus Malzahn indicated that the senior is still the No. 1 guy at that position and will play vs. Arkansas. “Nick is our starting quarterback, regardless, so he’s going to be more of a leader,” Louis said. “Jeremy is learning more from Nick as far as that aspect. They’re both really good and really confident out there. I think both of them could start at any school. I believe in both of them.”
In other news and notes from Auburn’s first practice of preseason:
*Malzahn said that Josh Holsey, who has played cornerback and safety for the Tigers, will work at both positions this preseason. The junior was limited in spring drills after suffering a season-ending knee injury last fall.
“He will know both the corner and the safety,” the coach said following a 2 1/2-hour workout in shorts. “We’re just trying to think through the year. Last year, if you remember, we had a lot of injuries on the back end. He didn’t go through spring, but he got a chance to watch so we had him out there at corner today, but he does understand the boundary safety very well.”
*Malzahn said that even before Marshall’s incident this summer, the plan was to give backup quarterback Johnson increased playing time this season. “Me and Rhett (offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee) decided Jeremy Johnson was going to have a bigger role regardless this year. We have talked about him and his ability and how we feel about him. We feel very good about our quarterback position as a whole.”
*Malzahn said there is more to the punishments for Marshall and Jonathon Mincy, who won’t be allowed to start game one, but wasn’t specific on what that is. “The rest is between us,” he noted.
*The head coach said he liked the pace of practice on Friday. That was partly helped by having so many experienced players back and by having all the recruits on campus at the start of summer.
“I think it’s critical the fact that we had all of our guys here, and they were working out with Coach (Ryan) Russell and developed that foundation as far as the strength and everything that goes with that. I think it's great. Hopefully, within the first two weeks, we will be able to identify the guys that will be able to help us this year.”
*In addition to playing outside receiver and in the slot, Louis is also getting a look as a kickoff returner along with senior running back Corey Grant. “Having the ball in my hands comes natural for me,” he said. “I think I will do really good on kick returns.”
*Louis noted that Craig did a good job coaching on Friday despite having his ankle in a boot. “As leaders of the receivers we try to pick up the slack for him,” the junior said. “He can’t be everywhere at once so we have people step up helping the younger guys and making sure we do everything right so he doesn’t have to worry about running around and hurting himself more.”
Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes makes a point during Friday's practice as Reese Dismukes (background) listens.
*Senior center Reese Dismukes said he believes that Johnson will do fine filling in at quarterback. “He played a little bit last year. I think he started one game. I don't think it will be that big of a deal. He is a great quarterback, too, so I don't think that will be a big issue.”