AUBURN — Tommy Tuberville told reporters after Thursday morning’s practice that true freshman Wes Byrum is scheduled to kickoff against Kansas State.
Byrum was named the team’s starting field-goal kicker and kickoff specialist Aug. 19, but Austin High grad Morgan Hull has competed with Byrum for the kickoff spot since walking on to the team last week.
“If we get out (to game warmups) and (Hull) is booming them, we could change our minds,” the Auburn coach told reporters.
Hull told The Daily last week he and Byrum were “neck and neck” in the length of their kickoffs. Tuberville also said Hull was reaching Byrum’s length, routinely booting kicks into the end zone during practice.
During his senior year at Austin High, Hull made 14 of 16 field goals, including a long of 53 yards. Hull, a Decatur Daily all-area and all-state selection, had athletic scholarship offers from a host of schools, including Arkansas and Ole Miss, but he wanted to attend Auburn.
The eligibility questions surrounding tailback Brad Lester remain unanswered.
Tuberville told reporters Thursday that Lester is still the team’s starting running back.
Lester was suspended for January’s Cotton Bowl because of a violation of team rules, but the junior told reporters during spring practice that he was actually suspended for academic reasons, which are still unresolved and may keep him out of Saturday’s game.
Tuberville said Tuesday he hoped to get a resolution on Lester’s academic standing by Thursday, but that has not happened.
“I haven’t heard anything else,” the coach said to reporters.
Tuberville has said since the opening of preseason practice that Auburn will be a running-back-by- committee team. He said Thursday that the No. 1 and No. 2 running backs will get 12 to 15 carries.
If Lester doesn’t play, sophomore Ben Tate and redshirt freshman Mario Fannin would be the two rotating tailbacks with the bulk of the carries.
“We’re assuming Brad is playing,” offensive coordinator Al Borges told reporters Thursday. “We have no reason to think otherwise, and it doesn’t change our offense any.”
Offensive guard Leon Hart practiced full speed for the second straight day, and Tuberville said he will play Saturday.
Hart, who has been suffering from an ankle injury, was not listed on the team’s depth chart that was released Tuesday. After emerging from spring as the starting right guard, Hart was fighting off players for the starting position during preseason practice.
Since the injury to Hart on Aug. 12, redshirt freshman Mike Berry has held the starting role.
True freshman linebacker Brent Slusher is the only other injured player that could see playing time for Auburn.
Slusher, suffering from a jammed wrist, was back practicing Thursday, but defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said Thursday that Slusher will likely just play on special teams Saturday.
Daily Sports Writer
When talking recently about getting players into a game-week routine, Alabama coach Nick Saban revealed what his game-day itinerary usually includes.
“First thing I do is take the old coffee, put it in a cup, put it in a microwave, warm it up, dump that coffee, make some new coffee, drink the old coffee that’s horrible from the day before, while the new coffee is going, eat my two Little Debbie cookies,” he said. “By the time the new coffee comes out, I walk to the mailbox, get the mail, get the paper, dogs follow me out, they go in, I give them a bone, and I’m ready to go shower and get ready to go.”
As for the team, Saban ran down the typical week of practice.
On Monday, Alabama goes out in helmets and shoulder pads and works on the kickoff game, some “base” stuff and seven-on-seven drills.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Tide works on situational plays in pads such as first-and-10 plays, long-yardage situations and short-yardage plays. On Thursday, the team works on its two-minute drill and 2-point plays so it can cover all aspects of the game before the basic walk-through Friday.
Saban didn’t say how many freshmen he would like to play Saturday but mentioned that he wanted to get a few new players some game experience.
Saban already has Rolando McClain, a true freshman from Decatur, playing at linebacker.
“You’d like to get yourself in a position where you have enough depth on the team where you don’t have to play very many freshmen,” Saban said. “But we’re probably a ways away from being able to do that.”
Saban said that he learned from his former coach at Kent State,
Don James, that a team’s success
lies within its depth, not its star players.
“My old college coach Don James used to say, ‘Look at the last 40 guys on your team, that’ll tell you what kind of team you’re going to have,’ ” Saban said.
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