Auburn, Ala.—On Tuesday Auburn Coach Gene Chizik said the 15th-ranked Auburn Tigers are preparing to play without leading receiver Emory Blake this weekend at Arkansas after the junior suffered an ankle injury in the win over South Carolina last Saturday. Already without redshirt freshman Trovon Reed, that means the Tigers will be looking for someone to make a play in the passing game against the Razorbacks.
One of the leading candidates to make that move is junior DeAngelo Benton. A top prospect out of Louisiana, Benton has just two catches for 56 yards this season and caught just a single pass last season as Auburn won the BCS National Championship.
Benton has already shown he’s capable of doing the job as was evidenced against the Gamecocks. With the game on the line and the Tigers facing a third and 13, Benton grabbed a Barrett Trotter pass for a first down to keep the eventual game-winning drive alive and proved to himself and his coaches he was ready for the challenge.
“Oh, yeah, I think that catch on third down kind of helped me out a little bit,” Benton said. “My opportunity has come to make many more, so I’m just waiting until Saturday so I can gain more confidence from all the coaches, including Coach Chizik.”
Benton makes a huge catch against South Carolina.
Benton has the physical size and strength to be able to take up the slack in Blake’s absence. It will be tough however to replace the chemistry between Blake and Trotter as he leads the team with 16 catches, 333 yards and four touchdowns. Benton said all he can do is work hard to get in a rhythm with Trotter and go from there.
“Oh, yeah, it’s very important since Emory is down,” Benton said. “I’m the next man behind Emory, so I’ve got to gain all the chemistry I can between now and Saturday.”
Auburn is a run/play-action passing offense under Coach Gus Malzahn but so far this season the passing game hasn’t been able to deliver with the big plays down the field. Facing an Arkansas defense allowing 220 yards through the air, but giving up just six touchdown passes, Benton said he’s just excited about his opportunity this weekend and is wanting to make the best of it.
“I’m just ready to play,” Benton said. “I’ve been waiting since I got here. Finally the opportunity comes so I’ve got to make the best of it, continue to work hard in practice to gain confidence from the coaches.
“I’m just personally worried about my guys from Auburn and not from Arkansas,” he added. “We’re going to work hard to play a good game come Saturday. So we’ll know the end result come Saturday night.”
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