AUBURN - Freshman wide receiver Trovon Reed has played just two snaps this season, but is coach isn't ready to give up yet. Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said he hopes to see Reed on the field Saturday when No. 11 Auburn (4-0, 2-0) plays Louisiana-Monroe (1-2) at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Reed, one of the nation's top wide receiver recruits, suffered a badly bruised knee in preseason camp. He played two snaps as the Wildcat quarterback against Clemson on Sept. 18 and was limping badly a day later.
Taylor said whether Reed plays Saturday will depend on Thursday's practice.
"The one I will really be glad to get back is Trovon, because he’s explosive," Taylor said. "I really haven’t had a chance to use him. I’m hoping to get him back this week. He looks a lot better, but he hasn’t had a hit on it. If he doesn’t practice full-speed by tomorrow, he won’t. He tried to go. When you are a speed guy, when you get something on your ankle or your leg or your feet, it obviously sets you back."
MORE INJURED RECEIVERS: At least four other wide receivers have been slowed or sidelined by injuries.
Sophomore DeAngelo Benton suffered a broken hand early in camp and has played only a handful of snaps in three games. Sophomore Travante Stallworth (knee) has played in one game. Freshman Antonio Goodwin (wrist) has played special teams. Sophomore Philip Pierre-Louis (knee) has not played.
Goodwin, Taylor said, could get a shot at playing on offense Saturday.
SHORT PUNTS: Senior punter Ryan Shoemaker might not want to look over his shoulder. He might see freshman Steven Clark closing in. Special teams coach Jay Boulware expressed dissatisfaction with the punting game Wednesday. Shoemaker is almost 5 yards out of 11th place in the Southeastern Conference statistics.
"We need more distance and hang time from our punter," Boulware said. "Probably the biggest things I have not been pleased with is our punting. We are not hitting the right field zones with our punts that tie in with our protection up front. They are not very far and don’t have a lot of hang time. The kids that are covering, I feel pretty good about that."
Clark has not been in a game, but Boulware said that could change if things don't get better.
"We are going to keep looking at that," Boulware said. "Steven is a young kid with a lot of ability. There are some things he needs to continue to work on, too. You’d like for a senior to be able to handle the responsibility of punting."
BYRUM BATTLES: Boulware said senior kicker Wes Byrum, who missed a 23-yard field goal try against South Carolina, is dealing with issues that might have been a distraction.
"Wes has been going through a number of other things a lot of people don’t know about," Boulware said. "Obviously, that field goal is inexcusable from our standpoint. He’s been battling some things he’s trying to work through. I think that field goal has really gotten his attention. We’re hoping we’ll see last year’s Wes come through"
BETTER THE SECOND TIME: Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes was impressed watching his players lead the way to 334 rushing yards against South Carolina last Saturday. He was even more impressed when he watched the video.
"Normally, when I watch a game in person and come back and watch it on tape, if I thought we didn’t play very well, it’s usually not quite as bad as I thought," Grimes said. "If I thought we played really well, it’s usually not quite as good as I thought. It is usually somewhere in between.The last two weeks have been the opposite of that.
"Seeing the Clemson game in person, I knew we didn’t play real well, but when I watched it on film it was even worse than I thought. The South Carolina game, I knew we did a good job or we wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things we did. When went back and looked at it and saw how hard the guys actually played and how physical they were, I was really impressed. I was really, really pleased with their effort. The challenge to them now is can we go out there and build on that and do it again?"
MOSLEY ON THE MOVE: Junior Brandon Mosley moved into the starting lineup at right tackle against South Carolina and earned high praise from Grimes.
"Brandon has just gotten a lot better in the last couple of weeks," Grimes said. "When guys are competing for a job and don’t get it, they’ll typically go in one of two directions. They’ll either go downhill because their focus wanes or they lost motivation or they are driven to do even better. In some cases, it helps them get better because the pressure is off a little bit."
Mosley, Grimes said, is in the latter category.
"The pressure was off and he had the opportunity to focus on improving as a player," Grimes said. "And he was hungry. He wasn’t going to just going to sit back there and take it. He focused on getting better every day. What he has done the past couple of weeks have prepared him for this opportunity."