— AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Quarterback Kiehl Frazier and Auburn are still seeking reliable wide receivers to complement top target Emory Blake.
It's a familiar problem for the Tigers that pre-dated the opening loss to Clemson, when it was particularly glaring.
Auburn (0-1) will almost certainly need some receiving help for Blake and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen to produce in the passing game Saturday at Mississippi State, led by star cornerback Johnthan Banks and a veteran secondary.
"We've got to develop a trust that other receivers are capable of making plays," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "We have confidence in other guys. We've got to get them the ball. They've got to show on game day right now that they can do something with the ball in their hands. We know Philip can, we know Emory can."
The Tigers haven't received similar proof from sophomore receivers Quan Bray and Trovon Reed or other youngsters like redshirt freshman Sammie Coates.
Frazier had trouble connecting with anybody but the most established pass-catchers in his starting debut. Blake had four catches for 109 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown. Lutzenkirchen also caught four passes for 71 yards.
Tailback Onterio McCalebb had two short receptions and Bray caught an 8-yarder.
Everyone else got a goose egg.
"I know they can do it in the game," Blake said. "I'm not questioning that, but sometimes it takes a little bit of game experience. Sometimes it takes some things happening and some success for you to get rolling and comfortable. So I believe that's what's coming."
It never really happened last season. Blake, Lutzenkirchen and McCalebb accounted for 59 percent of Auburn's receiving yards last season and 56 percent of the catches.
Auburn started two tight ends against Clemson, with Brandon Fulse joining Lutzenkirchen.
Reed had a chance for a touchdown catch but caught the ball a foot or so behind the end zone.
"He has to kind of know more where he is on the field, and I could have put the ball in there a little bit harder so he didn't have to thinks as much," Frazier said.
Reed and Bray were mostly used on screen passes last season, trying to take advantage of their abilities in the open field. Defenses often sniffed out the plays. Reed averaged 7.8 yards on 21 catches and Bray averaged 5.5 yards on 17 catches.
Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler offered a limited response when asked how Reed, Coates, Bray and other young receivers are performing in practice. He singled out Bray.
"Quan's done a good job. Great team guy. He's done a wonderful job," Loeffler said. "He'll continue to get better, too. It's important to him, really important to him."
Mississippi State certainly has the scouting report on Auburn's passing game. Stop Blake and Lutzenkirchen, and make Frazier look for other receivers.
"I think (Clemson) got some pressure on the quarterback. But he is mobile, he can create on his own and he did," Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said. "He still created and did some things on his own. I think they're going to want to spread the ball around a little more. I think (Frazier) got comfortable looking at one or two receivers and we've got to do a good job trying to take guys away from him. Make him get to his third or fourth option. You make it easy for him, he's going to be able to throw and execute."