Auburn wide receiver Tony Stevens was a surprise scratch from the team’s lineup Saturday night in a 40-29 win over Ole Miss with an undisclosed injury.
Stevens travelled with the team to Oxford, dressed and even went through pregame warm-ups, but the coaching staff made a similar decision to the one they made last week when it decided to sit Kerryon Johnson against Arkansas.
“He got hurt last week,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He tried to practice on Tuesday and he was still hurting. We felt like we’d let him see what he could do in pregame he just wasn’t ready to go. Hopefully he will be ready to go next week.”
Stevens didn’t catch any passes in a 56-3 win over the Razorbacks, but Auburn only threw the ball 12 times. The wide receiver made no mention of an injury when he spoke to the media Tuesday about the game.
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“If we can run the ball all day and can't stop it, I'm for it,” Stevens said of the passing game. “I know there are going to be some games we might have to throw it, and the running backs will have to block for us. It's a team effort. Nobody has complained because you just try to go out there blocking and try to make an impact blocking.”
The lack of catches against Arkansas did little to impact Stevens’ status as the team’s leading receiver in most of the major statistical categories — receptions (24), yards (408) and touchdowns (three) — at the position.
Auburn’s receiving corps knew the Stevens’ status was iffy going into the game.
“We knew he may or may not play, but either way we were going to help pick up the slack,” Auburn wide receiver Darius Slayton said.
Slayton and his fellow receivers did just that helping quarterback Sean White make it through the night without his favorite target.
White completed passes to eight different targets with all but two receivers catching throws of 15 yards or more. Jalen Harris and Jason Smith each had their first catch of the season.
“We just have a team offense,” White said. “I really believe that. Whether we are throwing or running, it doesn’t matter who gets the ball. Kerryon (Johnson), (Kamryn) Pettway, Stanton (Truitt) everybody is just trying to get each other open; trying to block for each other. It doesn’t matter who scores. We are just trying to put up yards and put up points.”