|Duke Williams after a clutch touchdown catch vs. La Tech, 2014|
Gus Malzahn failed Auburn. He failed the football program and the fans.
D'haquille a.k.a. Duke Williams failed the program and its fans as well. He was famously on the cover of Sports Illustrated for Kids before the season started, and now he is punching people in a bar over sunglasses.
Jay Jacobs failed, and so did every other coach that failed to act fast enough to eliminate an apparent issue from the team based on talent--definitely not production. In the process the three, and many others, put the reputation of the Tigers program on a guy with no discipline--on or off the field.
Williams is no stranger to issues. He was suspended from the bowl game a year ago for a violation of team rules, and constantly had loafing plays this season as the passing game didn't develop as he expected.
Earlier this summer he had issues that took to Twitter and forced a response from the Gus Bus himself. It was clear the senior was not a leader and was going to be a babysitting issue for the staff.
At that they failed.
When Williams arrived on the Plains he was one of the most highly sought after receivers in the JUCO ranks. He had arrived at Auburn as the No. 1 ranked JUCO player in the country according to Rivals.com. He had shunned his in-state team LSU to join the Tigers from Alabama.
Since his arrival at Auburn, Williams produced 57 catches for 877 yards and six touchdowns. Modest production but a far cry from the lofty expectations of a No. 1 rated recruit.
Expectations are not being met as he was third in total receiving yards on a team that is among the worst in passing production this year. It's not all on Duke and the receivers, but there is a lot to say for a lack of effort on that side of the ball in the leadership department.
On the other side of expectations, Ricardo Luis has stepped into the all-purpose senior star at receiver for Auburn, leading the team in receptions (19) and adding 11 carries on the ground for one touchdown.
|Ricardo Lewis No. 5|
The hope is that he can continue to produce at an all-star level and take over the expectations left in the dust by Williams.
The problem at hand can, and hopefully will be fixed with the dismissal. Unfortunately team chemistry doesn't just automatically appear because it should. The Tigers have some obvious issues with continuity on and off the field this season, but there have been bright spots.
Peyton Barber has been running extremely well and has been a highlight with his 558 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He is in the top 20 in the country in rushing yards.
He is the bell cow of the backfield and there are others in the mix. If Roc Thomas continues to come on strong and limits his mistakes this offense will flourish. Sean White is also another name that can be simply serviceable and win games for the Tigers at quarterback.
The defense is coming along as it finds its identity and Will Muschamp grabs hold of what has become his BOOM defense, but there still has to be the team continuity that appears.
With the suspension of Jermaine Whitehead just a year ago seemingly gutting the locker room with leadership, this has to be a major focus for the staff and seniors on the team. Re-establish a leadership base.
Make this team believe in the talent that it has on it. Believe in the Auburn name, not the name wearing the jersey.
If not, the pre-season hype will have owned the Tigers once again.