War Eagle Extra

Auburn making due without superstar wide receiver this season

Auburn wide receiver Eli Stove, No. 12, looks for room past Mississippi defensive back Deontay Anderson in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016.
Auburn wide receiver Eli Stove, No. 12, looks for room past Mississippi defensive back Deontay Anderson in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. AP

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee isn’t fretting over Auburn’s lack of a go-to receiver this season.

He’s even embracing it.

The offense is committed to a “team approach” at the position with the go-to receiver being the players on the field at any given moment.

“We’re not a lot of superstars this year,” Lashlee said. “But that’s OK. It’s a good team offensive mix, and that’s why eight different guys caught a ball last night, and they were all productive catches.”

Auburn’s passing attack didn’t miss a beat in a 40-29 win over Ole Miss Saturday night without leading receiver Tony Stevens, who missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

Stevens is considered the de-facto leader of the group with his 24 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns — all team-highs — but Lashlee sees quarterback Sean White showing confidence targeting any one of his many targets.

Five players have led Auburn in receiving through eight games with Stevens sharing the spotlight with Marcus Davis, Kerryon Johnson, Stanton Truitt and most recently Darius Slayton.

“They’ve all repped with Sean quite a bit, and I think that’s why we’re getting better each week with the efficiency, is that he’s more confident with where they’re going to be and what they’re going to do, and he’s giving them opportunities,” Lashlee said.

Lashlee sees White playing looser without the pressure of having “one guy that everybody knows.”

“There’s nobody for the defense to key on, and it allows the quarterback and really everybody to run the reads, run the progressions, and wherever the ball and read takes it, that guy has to make the play,” Lashlee said.

It helps to have a bunch of hungry freshman — Eli Stove, Nate Craig-Myers and Kyle Davis — looking to make an impact every time they are on the field.

“We’re throwing the ball and there’s a whole bunch of young guys out there,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said Saturday night. “They made a couple of mistakes, but they’re battling each week.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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