SEC Football Notebook
AUBURN — Decatur High grad Jerraud Powers is not entirely sure he will start Saturday when Auburn hosts Kansas State, but he’s hoping for it, along with many in his hometown who are making the trek to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“I have a lot of family and friends from back home who are expecting me to start,” he said, “and they are all coming up Saturday.”
Although Powers is listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, nothing is ever certain so early in the season. The sophomore cornerback expects to know for certain Thursday.
The only thing that would prohibit Powers from starting, he said, are match-up problems Kansas State may create. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp may want to play someone else because that player may match up better with a Kansas State receiver.
But Powers has no real reason to think that, and if it happens, he doesn’t care too much.
“If I don’t start, though, I’m not going to have any hard feelings because I got two more years here,” he said. “I know I’ll start one day.”
Powers remembers the sleepless nights from a year ago when he was a redshirt freshman entering his first game at Auburn, but the experience he got last season washed away those feelings.
“This time a year ago, I was nervous ... I’m asking a lot of questions ... I’m excited ... I wasn’t sleeping at night because I’m thinking about the game,” he said. “Compared to this year, I am more relaxed because I saw the field a lot last year. To me, I’m a more experienced player.”
That will help with his role in covering a set of talented Kansas State receivers. The Wildcats have an experienced senior receiver in 6-foot-3, 217-pound Jordy Nelson, who the 5-foot-9 Powers will be matched up with in Auburn’s nickel defense, which features five defensive backs.
But at least Powers has seen Nelson on videotape, unlike another K-State starting receiver, Deon Murphy. Murphy transferred from junior college this offseason. He was rated as the 10th best junior college wideout by Rivals.com.
“We haven’t seen him on tape because he wasn’t (at KSU) last year, but from what I hear, he’s a speedster,” Powers said, “supposed to be a straight-out burner.”
Players get four free passes to each Auburn home game. Powers said he’s been flooded with phone calls from family and friends wanting to be on the pass list.
So what does he tell them? Talk to my mom.
“I gave my mom all responsibilities for that,” he said. “They call me up, and I say, ‘You got to call my mom about that.’ ”
? Offensive coordinator Al Borges admits it: Auburn doesn’t actually have a so-called starting tight end.
“Truth be told, we don’t have a starting tight end,” he said. “We have three starting tight ends.”
Although senior Cole Bennett is listed as the starter on the depth chart Auburn released Tuesday, he will share playing time with sophomores Tommy Trott and Gabe McKenzie when Auburn kicks off the season Saturday.
“You could shake them up, throw them down, and whoever falls out of the box first could start,” Borges said. “It doesn’t make much difference to me.”
Trott started nine games last season, as he and McKenzie filled in for an injured Bennett, who suffered a broken ankle in the third week of the season. Bennett received a medical redshirt, giving him one more year of eligibility.
Borges said each tight end possess a different skill. Trott is the receiver of the group. McKenzie the blocker and Bennett is a combination of both.
“They all bring something a little different to the table, but they are not weak at anything,” Borges said.
Last season, the three tight ends combined for 25 catches. But a healthy Bennett and a more experienced Trott and McKenzie are sure to drive up that number this year.
Daily Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA — Coach Nick Saban announced Wednesday that nose guard Brian Motley will miss six to eight weeks with a fractured ankle. Motley injured the ankle at practice Tuesday. Motley had a pin inserted during a surgery Wednesday.
Sophomore Lorenzo Washington is expected to step in and start in Motley’s place, but Saban said the injury could open playing time for Athens High grad Alfred McCullough.
“(McCullough) is a bright young man, he works hard. He has a good motor, and he may get an opportunity out of this to play,” Saban said. “The experience will enhance his development.”
Last season, Washington played 32 snaps and had no tackles.
? If the heat during preseason practice was beneficial to anyone, it could have been to left tackle Andre Smith.
Smith, who finished last season at 345 pounds, says he is down to 330 now. He started practice at 335 pounds.
“If you watch the bowl game last year, I was huge,” Smith said. “This year, I put on my jersey and had a little more room in there.”
Smith also may have divulged a little bit from Saban’s offensive playbook. He said that unlike the Independence Bowl where he scored a touchdown off a 2-yard lateral run, there are no offensive plays designed to use him as the centerpiece.
“It was a one time deal, but until it comes up again I can’t worry about it,” Smith said.
? With Jimmy Johns moving back to running back, Baron Huber is listed as making his first-ever start at fullback.
Before preseason practice, Huber looked at his film from the spring and made a list of goals he wanted to attain. So far, he says he has achieved most of them.
Whether that means his role is more as a blocker, a runner or a pass catcher is debatable. But Huber thinks that when he is called upon, he can make plays.
“I can just know myself and have myself together, and when it’s time for me to make plays, I’ll go in, make the play,” Huber said. “I’m confident I can do that.”
Huber caught one pass against Florida International last year but hurt his ankle in that contest and missed the final four games.
? Saban said Wednesday he will talk to freshman defensive tackle Josh Chapman about whether the Hoover High grad will play Saturday.
Chapman is the focus of a grade-changing scandal in which someone allegedly changed his grade in order to make him Division-I eligible, according to The Birmingham News.
“He didn’t do anything wrong. We didn’t do anything wrong.” Saban said. “If there is potential for the guy to be ineligible, then the prudent thing for us to do is maybe not play him in this game.
“We haven’t got the information, but we are going to do the most prudent thing for our team without penalizing the young man.”
Daily Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. — Vince Dooley has attended every Georgia season opener since his first game as head coach in 1964, but that streak will end at 43 years Saturday.
With some reluctance, Dooley has decided to instead travel to Ruston, La., to watch his son, Derek, in his first game as Louisiana Tech’s coach.
Dooley said his wife, Barbara, cast the deciding vote for Louisiana Tech and family loyalties.
“There was no doubt where she was going to be,” Dooley said Tuesday.
“I had a bit of a dilemma. Then she said, ‘You need to be there for your son.’ ”
That was that. Dooley would have to miss the Georgia-Oklahoma State game.
Dooley was Georgia’s coach from 1964-88 and served the school a total of 41 years as coach and athletic director. He retired June 30, 2004.
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge has a broken pinkie on his throwing hand but is expected to play Saturday at No. 12 California.
“He’s thrown a bit, and it looks like he’s going to throw fine,” coach Phillip Fulmer said Wednesday. “But I appreciate his toughness getting back out there.”
The senior jammed the right pinkie taking snaps Monday and an X-ray Wednesday revealed the break. Fulmer said he expected it would take three to four weeks for Ainge’s finger to be back to 100 percent.
Fulmer said sophomore backup quarterback Jonathan Crompton was prepared to take over for Ainge if he struggles in the 15th-ranked Vols’ season opener.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas receiver Marcus Monk may be out through the Sept. 15 game at Alabama, now that he has undergone a second arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Arkansas trainer Dean Weber told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that two pieces of cartilage had moved beneath the meniscus in Monk’s knee, causing pain.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Guard Will Arnold, a former starter who missed most of last season with an ankle injury, said his comeback was ahead of schedule.
“I’m shocked at how well I’ve come back,” Arnold said. “Going into camp, I couldn’t have told you if I was going to make it through camp and play football, period, or what, but I’m real pleased.”
Second-ranked LSU plays at Mississippi State on Thursday night.
Arnold said he hoped to get into the game.
This week, LSU coach Les Miles said Arnold, a senior, was in for “every snap in the last two practices and appears to be rounding into shape and having an opportunity to play a little bit more football.”
From Wire Reports
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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