Sammie Coates

Auburn’s leading receiver ‘running late’ to arrive at Outback Bowl

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A week ago, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t sure if the team’s leading receiver, D’haquille Williams, would play in the Outback Bowl against the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers.

Williams didn’t practice last week due to an illness plus lingering issues with a knee he injured earlier in the season against the Texas A&M Aggies.

After not practicing with the team, Williams didn’t travel to Tampa, Florida for the bowl game.

While Sammie Coates is one of the nation’s most talented wide receivers, the Tigers lose a lot with Williams out the lineup. The JUCO transfer came into the program and immediately became quarterback Nick Marshall‘s favorite target. He leads the team with 45 receptions and 730 receiving yards.

Williams is also a better overall route runner than Coates. The junior, who is NFL bound,  is one of the nation’s top deep threats. Williams was far more willing to run the routes and make the tough catches over the middle, though.

UPDATE [7:00 p.m. ET]:  Due to D’haquille Williams‘ injury status, Auburn’s top target didn’t initially travel with the team to Tampa, Florida, for the Outback Bowl. However, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn told reporters Friday night that the wide receiver will be at the game.

Malzahn never specified whether or not Williams will be cleared to play for the New Year’s Day affair.

Gus Malzahn uncertain of D’haquille Williams’ status for Outback Bowl

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Auburn wide receiver D’haquille Williams continues to be bothered by lingering injuries and illness.

The Outback Bowl is 13 days away, but Auburn’s leading receiver isn’t currently on track to play in the game.

When asked about whether Williams would definitely play against the Wisconsin Badgers, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t willing to commit one way or another.

“Not at this point,” Malzahn told Al.com’s Joel A. Erickson.

Williams missed two of Auburn’s final three games due to a sprained MCL and a bruised knee that he suffered Nov. 8 against the Texas A&M Aggies. The JUCO transfer returned for the Iron Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide and caught seven passes for 121 yards.

However, the talented wide receiver hasn’t been feeling well.

“He has not practiced,” Malzahn said. “He was sick and he’s got some treatment things to do from the last game.”

Despite missing those two games, Williams still leads the Tigers with 45 receptions for 730 yards. The 6-2, 216-pound receiver has proven to be the security blanket for quarterback Nick Marshall.

If Williams can’t play, the Badgers will roll coverage toward Auburn’s deep threat, Sammie Coates. The junior will be playing his last game as a member of the Tigers before he’s NFL bound.

Auburn WR Sammie Coates to enter NFL Draft

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One of Auburn’s biggest weapons in the passing game is turning pro. Sammie Coates, Auburn’s second-leading receiver this season, will accept an invitation to the Senior Bowl and enter the NFL Draft, according to a report by Rotoworld. 247 Sports was first to report the decision to turn pro.

Coates is expected to be one of the top wide receivers available to NFL franchises in the upcoming draft. He is expected to go as early as the first round and no later than the third round. The scouting report from Rotoworld says this about Coates;

“Coates wins as a vertical receiver, using outstanding speed to get downfield and take the top off coverages. He can be inconsistent at the catch point, specifically high pointing, but he has made some ridiculous acrobatic highlights. Coates will test like a phenom at the Combine, but needs plenty of refinement.”

Coates was second on Auburn with 717 receiving yards this fall, trailing only D’haquille Williams and his 730 yards. Coates also tied for second on the team with four touchdown receptions.

Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Mizzou’s Shane Ray headline AP All-SEC teams

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The regular season is over, which means awards season is here. In advance of his certain selection as a Heisman Trophy finalist (to be announced later Monday evening), Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper headlined the Associated Press All-SEC team by winning the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award as well as being a unanimous selection as a First Team All-SEC wide receiver. Cooper is the first wideout to win the AP’s SEC Offensive Player of the Year award since LSU’s Wendell Davis back in 1987.

On the defensive side, Shane Ray broke a zero-year drought of Missouri defensive ends winning the AP SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He, of course, follows 2013 winner and former teammate Michael Sam.

Without further ado, here’s how the whole team shakes out:

Offensive Player of the Year: Amari Cooper, Alabama
Defensive Player of the Year: Shane Ray, Missouri
Coach of the Year: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Freshman of the Year: Nick Chubb, Georgia

Offense – First Team
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
RB Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina/Bud Sasser, Missouri
TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss
C Reese Dismukes, Auburn
OL La’El Collins, LSU
OL Ben Beckwith, Mississippi State
OL Arie Kouandjio, Alabama
OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
PK Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky
AP Marcus Murphy, Missouri

First Team – Defense
LB Martrell Spaight, Arkansas
LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
LB Amarlo Herrera, Georgia
CB Senquez Golson, Ole Miss
CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
S Landon Collins, Alabama
S Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss
DE Shane Ray, Missouri
DE Bud Dupree, Kentucky
DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DT  Johnathan Allen, Alabama
P J.K. Scott, Alabama

Second Team – Offense
QB Blake Sims, Alabama
RB Josh Robinson, Mississippi State
RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
WR Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
WR Sammie Coates, Auburn
TE Steven Scheu, Vanderbilt
C David Andrews, Georgia
OL Greg Pyke, Georgia
OL A.J. Cann, South Carolina
OL Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
OL Austin Shepherd, Alabama
PK Josh Lambo, Texas A&M
AP Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

Second Team – Defense
LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
LB Kwon Alexander, LSU
LB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri
LB Antonio Morrisson, Florida
LB Curt Maggitt, Tennessee
LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia
CB Cyrus Jones, Alabama
CB Damian Swann, Georgia
CB Jonathan Jones, Auburn
S Braylon Webb, Missouri
S Ronald Martin, LSU
S Tony Conner, Ole Miss
P Kyle Christy, Florida

Second-quarter explosion pushes Tigers to halftime lead on Tide

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Alabama had Auburn on the ropes early and a knockout seemed imminent.  The Tigers, though, absorbed the blows and then connected on some haymakers of its own.  And, in the end, it was the home team staggering around the ring very much looking punch drunk.

In a rivalry game that could really throw the College Football Playoff chase into utter chaos thanks to earlier carnage, 20 second-quarter points pushed the Tigers to a 26-21 halftime lead.  The Tide took a 14-3 lead a little over eight minutes into the game before the Tigers righted the listing ship.

A pair of field goals in the second quarter bookended two scoring connections between Nick Marshall and Sammie Coates — a 34-yarder with 10:18 left in the quarter and another with :54 left.

That second scoring toss came :29 after the Tide had taken a 21-16 lead on a T.J. Yeldon touchdown.

After the second Marshall-Coates hook-up and with :37 left in the half, Blake Sims tossed his second interception of the game.  Another Marshall deep ball got the Tigers on the doorstep of another touchdown, but AU had to settle for yet another field goal on a drive that went into the red zone.

It’s highly likely that Nick Saban will spend a sizable portion of his time in the locker room eviscerating his normally stout defense.  Through two quarters, the Tigers put up 383 yards of offense as the Tide could do little to slow down the high-octane offense.  The damage actually could’ve been worse as three early AU trips into the red zone resulted in a trio of field goals instead of touchdowns in addition to the aforementioned trip late in the second quarter.

The good news for Alabama, which has already claimed the SEC West title thanks to Mississippi State’s Egg Bowl loss to Ole Miss, is that they get the ball on offense to start the second half.