War Eagle Extra

Slaughter produces for Auburn

Auburn wide receiver Chris Slaughter was a picture of confidence as he sat before a group reporters Sunday.

He assertively answered questions fired his way following a career-best eight-catch, 131-yard performance Saturday at Mississippi the day before.

Do you have the talent to be a No. 1 guy in the SEC?

"I do," he said.

Are you a possession receiver or a big-play guy?

"Both," he said.

Did you think you were capable of having a game like this?

"Yeah," he said. "All I needed was an opportunity."

His coach wasn't as complimentary.

Tommy Tuberville of dismissed Slaugther's big day, the first time an Auburn receiver topped the 130-yard mark since 2005 and only the fourth time since 2000.

Instead of praising the Fort Valley native for what he did on the field Saturday, Tuberville, who suspended Slaughter for three games earlier this season for an undisclosed violation of team rules, criticized what the sophomore has done in practice this year.

"He's been very inconsistent," Tuberville said. "When you're inconsistent as a receiver, then you've got a quarterback who doesn't have a lot of confidence (in you). He's not going to throw it to you very often."

Tuberville later called Slaughter a "role player."

That wasn't the case Saturday. With starter Rod Smith sidelined by a hip pointer, quarterback Kodi Burns looked in the 6-foot-3, 179-pound Slaughter's direction throughout the afternoon.

Slaughter's eight receptions — the most by an Auburn receiver in a game this year — matched his career total prior to before Saturday.

"It didn't surprise me," fellow wideout Tim Hawthorne said. "I knew it was bound to happen."

Slaughter also served as a big-play threat, hauling in two of Auburn's four longest passes this season.

He caught a controversial 37-yard pass up along the sideline early in third quarter after officials ruled he was forced out of bounds by the defender.

In the fourth quarter, Burns sold a pump fake on a stutter-and-go and found Slaughter open downfield for a 42-yard reception. Had the ball not been slightly underthrown, Slaughter might have scored.

Again, Tuberville had a different opinion.

"Chris is not a burner," Tuberville said. "Chris is more of a possession guy. Rod's a little faster than Chris. If we'd had Rod out there, he might have scored on that play. … You'd like for a little bit faster guy, a (James) Swinton, somebody, to step up."

This year, nobody has. An offense that was supposed to be a wide receiver's dream has been anything but a nightmare.

Despite rather pedestrian numbers, Smith is the team's leading receiver, with 25 catches for 246 yards in nine games. The aforementioned Swinton has two catches this year and only five in his four-year career.

With Smith's status for Saturday's game against Tennessee-Martin in limbo, Slaughter should see more time at the "X" receiver position in practice. It will give him a chance to gain Burns' trust.

"(Kodi's) got to get more confident in the guys that are out there on the field," Tuberville said. "Rod's been one of those guys; Chris hasn't. I think Chris earned some confidence from Kodi (on Saturday)."

Slaughter, like Burns, thinks it boils down to opportunity. He finally got it Saturday.

"Kodi's always been able to throw me the ball in practice, but never in the games," Slaughter said. "He got his chance and showed them what I could do."