College Football Notebook
AUBURN — Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges said earlier in the week that quarterback Blake Field is the backup to starter Brandon Cox, but that could change in the future.
“If we had to play tomorrow, we’d play Blake first,” Borges said. “But we don’t have to play tomorrow, so there’s more time to make that decision.”
Field, a junior, emerged from spring practice as the No. 2 guy, but the recent emergence of redshirt freshmen Neil Caudle and Steve Ensminger and true freshman Kodi Burns has left the position open for the last three weeks.
Caudle and Ensminger have been hurt during the last week, allowing Field and Burns to get more reps.
Caudle suffered a separated shoulder in the Tigers first preseason scrimmage Aug. 12. He will miss at least another month recovering. Ensminger also hurt his shoulder in the scrimmage but has been practicing with the team.
“It’s good to get more reps,” Borges said. “That’s an advantage.”
Burns was a big hit during the first scrimmage, scrambling out of the pocket and throwing a few bombs. But there was a milder reaction to Burns’ play from players and coaches Friday after the second scrimmage, which was closed to the public and reporters.
Asked if the speedy Burns was the No. 2 quarterback, Borges didn’t rule it out.
“I’m not going to say he’s not the No. 2,” he said. “Kodi’s still a work in progress, and until we get him enough reps where he’s comfortable under center, you’re not going to really know how good he can be.”
Auburn did not practice Monday. The team will begin drills again Tuesday.
After reviewing film of the final preseason scrimmage Friday night, Borges listed several players who stood out, including all of the tight ends, running backs Brad Lester and Ben Tate, receiver Robert Dunn and the offensive line — a key worry when preseason camp began.
“From the offensive line perspective, it was the best we’ve come off the ball all fall,” he said. “From the structural standpoint of getting the right bodies on the right bodies, we did a good job.”
Running backs coach Eddie Gran agreed with Borges about Tate and Lester, calling their play “solid.”
“I think they both really made a jump in terms of solidifying themselves,” he said.
Lester and Tate seem to be the top two backs with redshirt freshman Mario Fannin playing “catch-up,” Gran said. Fannin, who Tuberville routinely praises, suffered a pulled groin, which has hampered him from exploding off the ball.
“In two weeks, we’ll get him ready and that will really help our situation,” he said.
Daily Sports Writer
First-year Alabama coach Nick Saban constantly is trying to make sure that his players stay healthy, which is why he employs the “thud” philosophy when it comes to practice.
That means that when a player wraps up another player for a tackle, he is not allowed to bring him down.
Saban said this is to lessen injuries. He added that most injuries in football occur during the end result of a tackle, not at the preliminary point.
“If you thud a guy or tackle a guy in the right position, you shouldn’t have to take a guy to the ground,” Saban said. “Most injuries occur in football, in my opinion, especially in practice, when guys are on the ground.”
Saban added that the team does tackle in scrimmages.
And on the second day, the Tide also rested.
After Alabama scrimmaged Aug. 12, Saban said that one day of rest probably wouldn’t do much good in terms of preventing leg weariness that was plaguing the group.
So this week, he decided to give the team two days of rest after scrimmaging Saturday.
After taking off Sunday and Monday, the Tide will return to the Thomas-Drew practice field Tuesday to compete in drills until Saturday.
Daily Sports Writer
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom announced Monday he has indefinitely suspended backup quarterback Josh Riddell for a violation of team rules.
Croom would not say what Riddell did and the junior-college transfer was not available.
Freshman Wes Carroll will be the backup to starter Michael Henig going into the Bulldogs’ season opener against second-ranked LSU on Aug. 30.
Croom singled out Carroll for praise early this month, saying the Parkland, Fla., native was quickly fitting in and could challenge Riddell for the job by the time preseason practice closed.
“He’s going to make it an interesting battle for the second spot,” Croom said at the team’s Aug. 9 media day. “I mean it’s not going to be a given that Josh is the second guy. You say, ‘Be afraid to put a freshman in there.’ With him, I’m not afraid.”
The role is important because starter Michael Henig still has not taken a hit since breaking his collarbone for the second time last season. While Croom and Henig are confident a titanium plate will keep the quarterback from breaking it again, the Bulldogs struggled much of last season at the position with three players rotating in and out.
Riddell threw for 5,333 yards and 54 touchdowns in two seasons at Foothill College in California. Carroll was 52-5 as a starter at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, finishing his career with 3,767, 57 touchdowns and three trips to the Class 5A state title game.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two West Virginia University football players, one of them from Alabama, were arrested during the weekend and charged with transferring and receiving stolen property.
James Thomas, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Ellis Lankster, 21, of Whistler were arrested Sunday, Morgantown Police said in a news release.
FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU standout defensive end Tommy Blake was back on campus Monday for the first day of classes after missing five practices and an intrasquad scrimmage last week for personal reasons.
Coach Gary Patterson said Blake was expected to be on the field when the No. 22 Horned Frogs resume practice Tuesday.
BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football team concluded its final two-a-day workout Monday and head coach Neil Callaway said he felt that his team was productive as it continues to prepare for the season. “I feel we got a lot accomplished during these sessions,” Callaway said. “We pushed them hard and demanded a lot from them, both on and off the field. I think we got a lot done but we still have a long way to go.”
JACKSONVILLE — Just 13 days away from kicking off the 2007 season, the Jacksonville State football team began limited preparations for its opener against Alabama State on Monday afternoon but possibly sustained a key injury in the process.
Freshman center Tyler Ogletree of Griffin, Ga., left the morning practice after injuring his knee. Ogletree will undergo an MRI in Birmingham on Tuesday. He was slated to open the season as the starting center.
Sophomore Brandt Thomas of Anniston will move from nose tackle to left offensive guard and senior Devon May will move from left guard to center. Both practiced there Monday afternoon.
From Staff, Wire Reports
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