AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake isn’t generally regarded for his speed. Maybe he should be.
The junior has shown decent breakaway speed in the first two weeks, pulling away from Utah State and Mississippi State defenders for touchdowns after catching the ball on the same crossing route.
Why do people still question his speed?
“I still don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out,” Blake said, thinking it might be because he’s a long strider. “Hopefully people start to see that I’m not as slow as they think.”
Blake has produced this year, with 10 catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns, taking over the Darvin Adams role as the Tigers’ go-to receiver.
That people underestimate his speed might be an advantage.
“It makes you that much more hungry to prove them wrong,” Blake said. “Maybe they get surprised when they see it.”
Auburn had a hard time slowing down Clemson’s Andre Ellington in last year’s game, meaning keeping the junior running back in check is a point of emphasis this week.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Ellington ran 22 times for 140 yards in a losing effort at Auburn last year, adding 48 receiving yards.
Defensive end Dee Ford said Ellington’s speed stood out the most.
“I can’t stress that enough: he is fast,” Ford said. “Our angles are going to have to be crucial. We can’t give him any lanes.”
Despite all the different styles of uniforms being used in college football, Auburn has kept its design the same, except for minor tweaks to the pant stripes and the size of the names and numbers.
Of the different designs out there, Ford said Maryland’s stood out the most.
“I wouldn’t say in a bad way,” he said. “It just threw me off a little bit.”
Ford thinks changing them every week -- and sometimes between the pre-game and kickoff -- is too much, though.
“I feel bad for their equipment staff,” he joked. “When you think of the number of guys they have to worry about -- they come in, warm up and come out in the game in something different -- that’s too much.”
Baby face, big leg
Cody Parkey certainly doesn’t look like a college sophomore.
When asked how old he thinks Auburn’s baby-faced kicker looks, holder Ryan White couldn’t help himself.
“About 14 and a half,” he said with a laugh.
White can’t joke about Parkey’s leg, which has produced eight touchbacks in two games, many traveling through the end zone.
To put that in perspective, former Auburn kicker Wes Byrum had eight touchbacks in his final three seasons on the Plains.
Parkey had two touchbacks in limited playing time last season, but White didn’t see his power really emerge until this summer.
Now, it’s a given.
“I expect him to go to the end zone every time,” White said.
Linebacker-turned-defensive end LaDarius Owens, who played six snaps Saturday, has worked mostly at the quick end but is seeing increased time on the power side. Although Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf ran 27 times for 106 yards last week, Ford thought Auburn doled out some punishment on him. “He is pretty banged up,” Ford said. “I saw it in his eyes. He worked for those yards. We got to him and we tattooed him.”