The Auburn Tigers have not had a vintage offensive season in 2018 but the AU numbers have been trending upward in recent weeks, thanks in part to a freshman from Tuscaloosa.
Seth Williams, who starred in football and basketball at Paul W. Bryant High School last season, has emerged as Auburn’s primary deep threat in the passing game. A tall, physical receiver from the same mold as recent Auburn stars like Duke Williams and Sammie Coates, Williams is averaging 20 yards per catch (479 yards on 24 catches) with a team-high five touchdowns. Included in that total is the game-winner in the Tigers come-from-behind victory over Texas A&M.
“First of all, he has the ability,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said at his weekly press conference. “He has a very good skill set; it has just been a process of him becoming more comfortable. The more that you’re out there and … your number (is) called and you are successful, the more success you have. Seth is one of those guys that I think could even take that next step this final part of the season.”
Auburn’s other receivers are also capable. Ryan Davis, with 60 catches in 11 games, is the Tigers’ possession receiver, while freshman Anthony Schwartz, also a track standout, averages 18.6 yards per catch. The struggles that the Auburn passing game has encountered have been more related to difficulties in protecting quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
“We didn’t pressure him very well last year, and when we pressured him, we couldn’t get their guys covered,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on Wednesday night. “They ran a lot of crossing routes and they had time for those to develop, and we weren’t getting off the field on third down. We’re going to have to do a much better job.
“The quarterback (Stidham) is a very talented player. When he has time and can sit in the pocket and read and throw the ball, he has been very effective.”
Saban also noted that Auburn would “script” their early offensive plays and would show some “crazy stuff” to test the Alabama defense.
“They want to see how you’re going to adjust,” Saban said. “People sitting in their chair on Thursday night come up with a lot of crazy stuff.
“When a play caller gets in a rhythm, you have to guard against calling the same things in the same situation. That’s what I mean by ‘get through the (script).’
“Auburn has four or five personnel groups you have to adjust to. There’s not a lot of conventional stuff, so there’s a more difficult preparation for the players.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.