Auburn's passing offense, led by corner-turned-quarterback Nick Marshall, is a major work in progress, but so far it has come along surprisingly well.
Now it will really be put to the test.
Update: Wednesday, Sep. 25 – 1:32 p.m. ET
According to Brandon Marcello of the Birmingham News, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has made the news official:
Gus Malzahn confirms that WR Jaylon Denson is out for the year. He had surgery Tuesday. By-committee approach now at that spot.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) September 25, 2013
--End of Update--
According to Joel Erickson of AL.com, starting wide receiver Jaylon Denson could be lost for the year with a torn patellar tendon. Per the report, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said:
I won't get into any specifics, but we lost Jaylon on that first drive, and it's not good, we've probably lost him for the year.
That's a big loss for us. He's a guy that's really been the leader for us, plays a lot of snaps, does a lot of things that maybe people don't see.
Though he's hauled in just three passes for 45 yards this year, Denson is an integral part of Auburn's offense.
He was targeted twice on the opening drive against LSU on Saturday—suffering the injury on one of those plays—and is also, perhaps, its best run-blocker on the outside.
Tight end Brandon Fulse was listed behind Denson on the post-fall depth chart and is capable of playing his physical role on the outside. But compared to Denson, who is more adept at stretching the field, he will be a small downgrade and limit what Auburn's offense can do.
Sophomore Melvin Ray might be counted on to increase his rep count, too. Lashlee sang both his and Fulse's praises, according to Erickson's report, and both will need to step up and fill the production void.
Sammie Coates and Quan Bray, the Tigers' other starting receivers, have both been mildly productive this year—especially Coates, who already has 306 receiving yards and has established a nice rapport with his new quarterback.
There is enough depth to overcome this loss, but Denson's absence should not be taken for granted. He's an upperclassman and a leader, so his presence will be sorely missed.