Dunn Expects Passing Game To Step Forward

Auburn senior wide receiver Robert Dunn talks about his role in the offense.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's Tommy Tuberville is becoming known for putting players who aren't performing up to expectations in his doghouse. Whether it's because of performance on the field, in practice, or in the classroom, it has been a place most players tried to avoid over the past few seasons.

Senior wide receiver Robert Dunn was one of the chosen ones in the season opener for the Tigers as he was put in the doghouse for the ULM game and demoted to fourth-team wide receiver. Remaining as the number one punt returner, Dunn says he knew he needed to make something happen in his limited time and he did that and more with a 66-yard return for a touchdown.

"That was a big relief," Dunn says. "Everybody has kind of been waiting for that for a long time. It has been 12 years since the last punt return (for a score). It was just the right place at the right time.

"We've got a whole bunch of young guys on the punt return team now. They're working real hard. I really appreciate the young guys coming out and giving a lot of effort on special teams."

Robert Dunn returns a punt for a touchdown on opening night.

While injuries to three receivers could have played a part in things, that one return is likely the biggest reason why Dunn got some very welcome good news before Monday's practice.

"I'm back in the starting lineup today," Dunn notes. "They gave me the news or whatever. It's back to business."

Last season Dunn was suspended for the LSU game after a verbal altercation on the practice field the week leading up to the game. This week Dunn says it was something similar that put him in trouble, but he adds this time around he's learned his lesson on when the speak up and when to go to work.

"I'm not trying to argue or go back and forth with the coaches," Dunn says. "If they feel like it's a problem with something I'm doing then I'm not going to argue with them. I'm just going to make the adjustment. As a player I can't override the coaches. I just do what I feel that's the best thing to do and that is to do what they say."

With Dunn back in good graces the Tigers have one of their top weapons back in the passing game. That's good news following a rough first outing for the passing game Saturday night that saw Auburn complete just 13-27 for 85 yards. Dunn says as a whole the receivers did okay, but he's looking for more in the coming games out of the unit.

"We had a couple of drops," Dunn admits. "I think that is the only thing we really did bad. We didn't really open up the playbook a whole lot. We didn't throw it as much and when we did throw it we weren't in sync as much as we should have been.

"We just have to come out and try to get the scouts to give us a good look and put pressure on the quarterback to give them a look and feel for how it's going to be in a game. Southern Miss has a really fast team so we've got to get ready for that on offense."

The quarterback situation is one that is still up in the air for Auburn as Kodi Burns missed Monday's practice and is questionable for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. kickoff against Southern Miss. Dunn says while people think it's a problem having two guys playing, he feels confident in both Burns and Chris Todd to get the job done.

"It doesn't really matter to me," Dunn states. "I think both of them are great quarterbacks. I feel like neither one of them make us miss a beat. Chris Todd has great leadership. He comes in and makes all of his reads. Kodi gives us an explosive player. He makes something happen even when nothing is there. Either one of those guys is a fit for the system so it doesn't matter to me."

With a week to get better in the passing game before facing the Golden Eagles the Tigers got right to work on that in Monday's practice with Todd at the helm. Dunn says while it may appear there is a lot of work to be done, this Auburn offense has plenty left to show and much of that is in the passing game.

"Really it wasn't much of a surprise to me because I know what we can do and what we're capable of," Dunn says of the first game. "I know what plays we can run and what plays the coach could have been running. On the defense the middle of the field was wide open. Anyone could see that. Just throw a post and we score a touchdown every time.

"We really didn't want to open up the playbook much," he adds. "We were up. There's no need to pile it on. You've got to have respect for the game. If you're up 28-0 or 34-0 there's no need to try to hail mary the ball. Things like that get players hurt. We just kept it basic and simple. I don't feel like we have any struggles. We've just got to work the kinks out and get into game speed and out of practice mode."

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