News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

College Football Notebook


TUSCALOOSA — In his first college football game, Alabama freshman middle linebacker Rolando McClain finished second on the team with seven tackles. And that was only part of what he accomplished in a 52-6 win Saturday over Western Carolina.

The Decatur High graduate served as the Tide defense’s signal caller, which means he received the defensive play from the sidelines, interpreted it and then called it out to his teammates. While McClain’s hard hit on Western Carolina running back Willie Harper landed him on cable sports television highlights shows, Tide coach Nick Saban saw far more out of McClain than the highlight-reel tackle.

“I have a lot of respect for Rolando McClain because he showed maturity,” Saban said. “He made the calls. He has pride in performance, and because of his pride, he wouldn’t go out there and not know what to do in front of his teammates.”

With middle linebacker Prince Hall having served his one-game suspension, it’s uncertain who will start Saturday game against Vanderbilt, but Saban was loud and clear in his praise.

“I think he did a great job,” Saban said.

? When Tide tight end Nick Walker said he would be a bigger part of Alabama’s offense this year, it didn’t seem like he envisioned the kind of breakout game he enjoyed Saturday.

Walker led Alabama with five catches for 40 yards and one touchdown. He had three catches all of last season.

The 6-foot-4, 226-pound Walker said he lost about 40 pounds from last season, and it showed on his touchdown catch when he leaped to haul in a high throw.

? Freshman defensive tackle Josh Chapman played Saturday, although he did not record any statistics. Chapman, a Hoover High grad, is the subject of a grade-changing scandal involving his high school.

Josh Cooper,
Daily Sports Writer


AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville knew coming into the season that his defense and kicking game were going to win games, not his offense.

That certainly was the case for Auburn in Saturday’s 23-13 win over Kansas State.

The Tigers managed only one offensive touchdown and converted just three of 15 third-down attempts.

“It wasn’t a pretty win, but we’ll take it,” Tuberville said Sunday. “It was a typical first game of the year where the defenses have the upper hand.”

Although assistant coaches had not graded the game videotape yet, Tuberville acknowledged there were plenty of mistakes made on the offensive line. Auburn lost four starters from last season’s line and started two freshmen Saturday.

Kansas State sacked quarterback Brandon Cox five times and hurried him in eight other instances.

“Our offensive line struggled in a lot of areas,” said Tuberville, who noted that center Jason Bosley probably had the best game of all linemen.

Tuberville said Kansas State executed a similar defensive philosophy as Nebraska did in the Cotton Bowl when Auburn beat the Cornhuskers 17-14.

“The last two games, we’ve seen people bring the house,” he said.

? Tuberville said Sunday that about two to three dozen players have minor injuries but all of them should return for this week of practice.

“After you have a physical game like that, you are going to have that,” he said. “The training room is full of folks, which you’d figure it would be.”

Starting linebacker Tray Blackmon and safety Aairon Savage suffered ankle injuries. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite has a hamstring injury.

Cox sustained several massive hits Saturday, but Tuberville said the senior suffered no major injury.

“He’s fine,” Tuberville said. “He didn’t sleep very well, I’m sure, but he’s fine.”

? Running back Brad Lester will continue to practice with the team but will not play.

Tuberville announced Friday night the junior tailback was suspended indefinitely because of “unresolved academic issues.”

“We’d love to have him out there,” Tuberville said Sunday. “He’s got some work to do to make that happen.”

Sophomore Ben Tate filled in for Lester Saturday night, carrying the ball 23 times for 82 yards, but Auburn as a team only rushed for 62 net yards.

? Auburn announced its players of the game from Saturday’s 23-13 win over Kansas State.

Tight end Gabe McKenzie won the award for offense. McKenzie caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Cox with 2:11 remaining.

He also had three other catches.

End Antonio Coleman and tackle Pat Sims were named defensive co-players of the game. Coleman had the game-clinching fumble recovery that he took for a touchdown.

True freshman place-kicker Wes Byrum won the special teams award, hitting 3 of 4 field goal attempts.

? Redshirt freshman receiver Terrell Zachery and junior defensive back Lorenzo Ferguson did not dress out for Saturday’s game.

Tuberville said Sunday that the two players are in his “doghouse.” The coach did not give a reason and said Zachery and Ferguson are the only ones in trouble with him.

Ross Dellenger,
Daily Sports Writer


ATLANTA — Georgia tailback Kregg Lumpkin suffered a broken thumb in Saturday’s season-opening win over Oklahoma State and will not play this week against South Carolina.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday he did not know if Lumpkin, a senior who led the Bulldogs in rushing in 2006, will need surgery or how long he will be out.

“He’s going to be out a little bit,” Richt said Sunday. “He’s not going to be able to hold the ball a little while.”

The Associated Pres


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

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