There’s no hiding from it, Sal Cannella shrugged. It’s no secret.
The Auburn receivers are just going to have to step up.
But, he said, their plan is to do just that.
The Auburn receivers room has been challenged to fill fast shoes with Anthony Schwartz down with injury and with nicks and bruises piling up as fall camp rolls on, but together as a group, they expect to pick up the difference as the team barrels closer to the season opener Aug. 31.
Schwartz had surgery on his hand last week and his status for the opener against Oregon is uncertain. Veteran receivers Eli Stove and Will Hastings have been limited, too, as the team searches for depth and they rest their healed legs from twin ACL surgeries in the spring of 2018.
Auburn scrimmages Wednesday behind closed gates in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Schwartz sported a sling Monday during another practice out at the team facility.
“It’s kind of been the motto throughout the whole group that each and every one of us has got to step up in our own way, because each and every one of us can do good things in our own way,” said Cannella, another one of those receivers, after practice.
“Everyone brings a different weapon to the table, so it’s kind of just learn from stuff the day before that we didn’t do well and just improving — not improving on the things we’re already good at, but the real focus is on the stuff that needs improving, the stuff that isn’t as good.
“We got to bring that to the table and kind of equal everything out,” he said.
Schwartz, the speedster also on the AU track team, accounted for 568 yards from scrimmage last season. Stove and Hastings were limited in Auburn’s last scrimmage last week, head coach Gus Malzahn said, by design. The Tigers want to build depth there at receiver, and “be smart,” he said, with those two veterans whose skillsets are known commodities anyway.
If Schwartz is out against Oregon, the Tigers will need that depth.
“We’re not hiding from it,” Cannella said. “Yeah, he went down and it’s always ‘next man up,’ know what I’m saying?
“You’re always going to have another guy ready,” he said. “You’re only as good as the next man, and that’s fact, you know what I’m saying? We don’t hide from it. We don’t shy from it.
“Everyone’s got to be prepared like they’re a starter — first team, second team, third team, you got to have that mentality that you’re going to be put in as a starter at any moment,” he said.
That’s something the Tigers have talked about openly in their wide receiver room — embracing that challenge and pushing to step up when needed.
“So, first thing’s first is, everybody take care of your body,” fellow receiver Marquis McClain said of what those conversations are like. “That’s No. 1. That’s definitely the most important for everybody … just taking care of your body each and every day.
“But honestly, to see everybody else that was behind Anthony and everybody, stepping up — It, honestly, it puts everybody that’s behind Anthony and Eli and Will in a hot seat, which is good, because coach Malzahn is putting more pressure on them, which makes us better.”