Auburn, Ala.--Even though Auburn wants to run the football first in Gus Malzahn’s offense built around being physical to set up the play-action passing game, for the Tigers to take the offense to the next level then sooner or later they will need big plays throwing the football.
With Kentucky expected to load the box to stop Peyton Barber on Thursday night the opportunity should be there to take some shots down the field. Desperately needing chunk yardage plays to help out a struggling offense, senior Melvin Ray said right now it’s just a matter of getting the job done when the opportunity presents itself.
“We’ve been saying it all year,” Ray said. “We haven’t really done it yet. Just more explosive plays; more big plays down the field. A lot of momentum changes, that helps out.
“We haven’t done that much this year so, just more big plays. Once we’re able to make explosive plays that’s when we can move our offense at the pace that we really want to do it. We haven’t done it yet.”
While some of the blame goes to Auburn’s quarterbacks with just 69 completions in 110 attempts for 769 yards and five touchdowns with seven interceptions, the wide receivers haven’t helped matters much with inconsistent play and several key drops along the way. Now without Duke Williams the group has had a chance to come together during the bye week and Ray said there’s still plenty of guys that can get the job done.
“We've still got guys like myself, Ricardo Louis, Marcus Davis, a guy like Tony Stevens, who’s been ready to go for a while now,” Ray said. “He’s stepping up. Everybody has a role they got to play now. “Every receiver, because we have so many of them that move around so much, every one of us has a different role we have to take now completely.
“Now with Duke being out, other guys have to step up,” he added. “They’ve been wanting to have that role so now they’ve got to step up and we go to be ready to do it. Whether that’s Tony, myself, Ricardo, Jason Smith or anybody in the receiving corps, we just have to be ready to step up and make a play--make big plays the whole game.”
Averaging just 24.6 points per game and 343.8 yards of total offense, Ray said the goal now is to show people exactly what this Auburn team is capable of doing. With enough players to have a breakout performance and put points on the board in bunches, Ray said the time for talking is done and now it’s time to show it on the field.
“We’re actually a pretty good team and we know how good we are across the board,” Ray said. “We know what we got talent-wise and ability-wise and so far we just haven’t proven it.
“A lot of people don’t think that we’re capable of doing the things we want to do in this league, and we really are and we know we are. We just have a lot to prove with this being an SEC game. It’s just what it is.”
Auburn takes on Kentucky on the road Thursday night. Kickoff is set for shortly after 6 p.m. CDT at Commonwealth Stadium.