News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

College Football Notebook


TUSCALOOSA — First-year Alabama coach Nick Saban said that he doesn’t pay attention to the college football polls. He didn’t give much thought to the preseason Associated Press poll, which was released Saturday without the Crimson Tide in the Top 25.

Alabama had 66 points, which was seventh among teams left out of the poll.

“What does that mean?” Saban asked. “It’s somebody’s opinion before the season begins about how they think it’s going to be. And I could care less.”

Saban’s 2003 LSU team finished first in the USA Today coaches poll and second in the AP rankings, but it began that season ranked No. 14 in the AP poll.

? When asked about freshman linebacker Rolando McClain on Tuesday, Saban mentioned that the Decatur High grad was one of the young guys who is catching on quickly.

On Saturday’s scrimmage, McClain made it onto the stat sheet with four tackles, one of which was for lost yardage.

Saban also said that Hoover High grad Josh Chapman was making strides on the defensive line. But when pressed on defensive tackle Alfred McCullough, an Athens High graduate, Saban made sure to mention that expectations shouldn’t be too high.

“He’s working. He’s a freshman, and they all, as I always say, they just went to the prom not too long ago,” Saban said. “So that doesn’t really help them, relative to what they need to do here. They’re freshmen. They just got out of high school, and they’re learning.”

? Three players wore black non-contact jerseys Saturday. Place-kicker Jamie Christensen, offensive lineman Cody Davis and defensive tackle Brian Motley rode exercise bikes.

Motley was wearing a cast on his injured hand. Saban said that Motley had surgery, but will be able to practice and play with the cast on in five to seven days.

According to Saban, Christensen had a pulled quadriceps muscle, but it did not appear serious. He is listed as day-to-day. Last season, Christensen missed the first two games with a groin pull.

? It seems like every week there is more positive news to report about kicker Leigh Tiffin.

Saturday was no different as the much-maligned kicker barely missed a 57-yard field goal.

Tiffin was 5 of 7 on field goals in the scrimmage with a long of 44 yards. With Christensen struggling with an injury, Tiffin might see playing time.

“He is doing a good job for us,” Saban said. “We have a lot of faith and trust and confidence in him.”

Josh Cooper,
Daily Sports Writer


AUBURN — Auburn receivers coach Greg Knox is still searching for a sixth wide-out to add to his playing rotation.

Knox said Saturday that Robert Dunn, Prechae Rodriguez and Rod Smith are occupy the starting receiver slots. He refused to name the other two who already have been chosen for the season’s rotation, but true freshman Chris Slaughter is in the mix.

Slaughter received praise after Friday night’s scrimmage, but coaches said Saturday that the Georgia native has a lot to learn about the playbook.

“He doesn’t know what to run or who to block,” Knox said. “He knows a small portion of the offense.”

Slaughter said Saturday that he had eight catches and a touchdown during Friday’s scrimmage, which was closed to the public and reporters.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder missed the first five days of preseason practice awaiting clearance from the NCAA. Slaughter, a member of the 2006 Auburn recruiting class, attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia after he failed to qualify last year.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said Slaughter has “all the talent in the world, but doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing yet.”

Knox listed the following up-to-date depth chart for the three receiver spots. The backups follow.

Z position: Rodriguez, Billings, Slaughter.

W position: Dunn, Tim Hawthorne, Terrell Zachary.

X position: Smith, James Swinton, Quindarius Carr.

? Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall has all but solidified the five players who will start the first game. Nall said the starting linemen at Saturday’s practice are his top five.

Those were left tackle King Dunlap, left guard Mike Berry, center Jason Bosley, right guard Tyronne Green and right tackle Lee Ziemba, who if he holds that spot would be the first true freshman to start on Auburn’s offensive line since 2002.

Three offensive linemen are recovering from injuries, including Berry (shoulder), Bosley (knee) and backup Byron Isom (knee).

? Coach Tommy Tuberville said Friday that the starting place-kicker and punter would be named Saturday, but the coaches have pushed the announcement back to Sunday.

True freshman Wes Byrum seems to have the edge in the kickoff and field goal kicking duties. He has also recently been battling for the punting job with walk-on Patrick Tatum and redshirt freshman Ryan Shoemaker, who has been injured.

Special teams coach Eddie Gran noted that Shoemaker “never lost his No. 1 spot.”

Ross Dellenger,
Daily Sports Writer

North Alabama

FLORENCE — North Alabama’s first scrimmage of the preseason Saturday at Veterans Park gave some newcomers a chance to shine for the Lions’ coaching staff.

Ed Gant, a junior college transfer at wide receiver, had seven receptions for 90 yards. Freshman receiver Charles McClain caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Dusty Goodwin.

“There was some good and some bad,” UNA head coach Mark Hudspeth said. “Our No. 1’s were solid and we were able to make some big plays. The defense was limited playing without some key guys and they kept things pretty simple. Our first offense executed well, but the second offense has a long way to go.”

Starting quarterback A.J. Milwee completed 9 of 15 passes for 45 yards, including a pair of touchdowns in goal-line work.


BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football team held its second scrimmage of the preseason Saturday at Legion Field, and Joseph Webb finished with 182 yards passing as he hit 12 of 24 throws with two touchdowns and one interception. Sam Hunt completed 9 of 26 for 63 yards with one interception. Redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Speight hit 6 of 16 for 64 yards with an interception.

From staff reports

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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