Sophomore wide receiver Emory Blake arrived at Auburn in the summer of 2009 expecting to make an early impact. He quickly learned it wouldn't happen that way.
Blake, the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, caught just nine passes as a freshman, five of them against Furman. But things have changed.
Blake caught his first career touchdown pass in a 17-14 win at Mississippi State. He caught three passes in last Saturday's 35-27 win over South Carolina. He turned a short pass into a touchdown on a tackle-breaking 12-yard run to the end zone.
The wait, Blake admits, was difficult.
"It’s tough," Blake said Sunday. "Sometimes you feel like you can make plays when the coaches don’t think you can. Last year they didn’t think I was ready. I played a little more toward the end of the year. I’m playing now and trying to make plays."
PAINFUL PENALTY: Brandon Mosley, who got his first career start at right tackle against South Carolina, said it was a memorable experience. But there was one play he would like to forget. He was called for a falst start, negating a Cam Newton touchdown that would have given Auburn a 28-27 lead. On the following play, usually reliable Wes Byrum missed a 23-yard field goal try.
"I was just leaning," Mosley said. "It’s something so small and so stupid. It really hurts you. I kind of just forgot about it after that and kept on playing."
PROPS TO DYER: Newton saw something special in freshman Mike Dyer during preseason camp. And he's seen even more as Dyer has become Auburn's starting tailback.
"When it comes down to the nitty gritty, when the game is getting close, he wants the football," Newton said. "His eyes are gleaming with 'give me the football.' He knows what he’s capable of doing. I think after he fumbled the football, he wanted it even more, wanted to get a little bit of payback, to say the least.
"Mike is an excellent player, excellent teammate to be around. He hasn’t even tapped in to what he can do yet."
SPECIAL TEAMS STAR: Freshman safety Demetruce McNeal made four tackles against South Carolina, and he didn't play a down at safety. He was the special teams star of the day.
"I'm really proud of our young guys like Demetruce," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "We keep preaching to those guys how much of an impact they have on our football team. He's a guy that definitely stood out in terms of making plays. There are some other freshmen that are really doing the same thing that maybe don't stand out to the naked eye."
PUNTING STRUGGLES: Auburn is last in the Southeastern Conference in punting average and net punting.
With senior Ryan Shoemaker handling all the punting duties, the Tigers average 38.9 yards per punt. That's almost 5 yards behind 11th-place Ole Miss' 43.6. In net punting, the Tigers are last at 34.8 yards.
NO TIME TO RELAX: Redshirt freshman defensive end Nosa Eguae, who got his first career start against South Carolina, said there won't be any slacking by the defensive line going into Saturday's game against underdog Louisiana-Monroe. Defensive line Tracy Rocker, he said, won't let it happen.
"Coach Rock doesn’t let us relax," Eguae said. "Either you are going to ball or you aren’t going to play. It’s about competition. You have to make plays. That’s what defensive linemen do, the good ones."