Auburn is running out of time to turn its season around.
Fresh off a bye week, senior wide receiver Melvin Ray called Thursday’s game against Kentucky in Lexington “huge.”
A spirited week of practice has Ray confident the Tigers are ready to show they don’t belong in the cellar of the SEC.
“It’s big for us,” Ray said. “This is SEC play. Kentucky is a good team, and we still have a point to prove. It’s going to be a big point.”
Ray knows many analysts and fans are writing Auburn (3-2; 0-2 SEC) off after a poor showing through the first six weeks of the season, but the Florida native sees a group ready to breakout.
“We’re actually a pretty good team and we know how good we are across the board,” Ray said. “We know what we got talent-wise and ability-wise and so far we just haven’t proved it. A lot of people don’t think that we’re capable of doing the things we want to do in this league, and we really are and we know we are.”
The challenge of jumpstarting an offense ranked 12th in the SEC is hard enough by itself, but the task comes as Auburn is going through a midseason quarterback competition, and the team’s second leading receiver Duke Williams getting dismissed from the team last week.
Ray didn’t express any doubts that the offense can overcome both situations.
Sean White and Jeremy Johnson have played so well in practice, Ray can see “why there’s a battle” at quarterback. The game experience both signal-callers have this season has helped them develop some chemistry with the wide receivers.
Ray has nine catches for 84 yards this year with two touchdowns. Both his touchdowns came on passes thrown from Jeremy Johnson. Ray caught three balls from Sean White, all against Mississippi State.
“We’ve been able to play with both of them and knowing the ability of both of them is like -- it’s not really a worry thing; we just want whoever is going to give us the best chance,” Ray said. “They’re both doing a good job right now. They really are. We feel confident with whoever coach (Malzahn) chooses to make the starting quarterback, but we’ve played with both of them so we’ve got a feel for both. It’s not like it’s a new guy.”
On replacing Williams, Ray said it would take a group effort from the receivers.
“Obviously, Duke was a huge playmaker in our passing game and so that now that changes to where everyone has to be able to step up and make a play and not depend on him or Ricardo or nobody else to be that guy,” Ray said. “We all have to be prepared for it at any moment.”