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College Football Notebook


KNOXVILLE — Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says his team needs to get back to basics after a season-opening 45-31 loss to No. 12 California on Saturday.

“We need to tackle better,” he said Monday of his 15th-ranked Volunteers. “We have to cut down on our mental mistakes and fundamental mistakes.”

The Tennessee defense allowed Cal to pick up 230 yards on the ground.

To help the Vols’ own running game, Fulmer said tailback LaMarcus Coker, recently reinstated from a team suspension, is expected to play Saturday. The sophomore led the Vols with 696 rushing yards his freshman year, even though he was sidelined for two games by an injured knee.

Mississippi State

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said Monday he won’t be hesitant to make a switch at quarterback if starter Michael Henig struggles again.

Henig threw six interceptions in a 45-0 loss to No. 2 LSU last week. Croom said backup Josh Riddell, who was suspended one game after being arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, might even share playing time with Henig on Saturday at Tulane.

“If Josh practices the way I think he will, I may play both quarterbacks anyway,” Croom said. “But I’ll do on game day whatever I’ve got to do to win the ballgame. I think all of our players know that going into the season and I really don’t treat the quarterback position any different than any of the rest of them.”

Croom said one of Henig’s interceptions came because of a miscommunication with a receiver. But the rest were poorly thrown balls that sailed because of poor mechanics or decisions.

North Texas

DALLAS — Todd Dodge lost one game by one point in his final five years at Southlake Carroll High School.

In his North Texas coaching debut last weekend, he lost by 69.

“It doesn’t feel good,” Dodge said on Monday, two days after No. 8 Oklahoma leveled North Texas 79-10. “There’s no doubt about it. I don’t want it to sit right with our program.”

Dodge’s hiring at North Texas was billed as historic: Not since Notre Dame fired Gerry Faust in 1985 has a Division I-A school gambled on promoting a head coach straight from high school.

Historic, too, was Dodge’s first game — but hardly in a way North Texas wants to remember.

The 79 points, the second-most scored by Oklahoma in school history, were the most ever allowed by North Texas. It was also the second-biggest loss in school history, falling just three points shy of the 72-0 loss to Nevada in 1991.

Southeastern Conference

BIRMINGHAM — Vanderbilt receiver Earl Bennett, Ole Miss defensive back Dustin Mouzon and Arkansas return man Felix Jones won the Southeastern Conference’s player of the week honors on Monday.

Bennett caught 13 passes for a school-record 223 yards and three touchdowns in Vanderbilt’s 41-17 win over Richmond to claim offensive honors. It was the most catches by an SEC player in an opening game.

Mouzon had two interceptions, recovered a fumble and made nine tackles in the Rebels’ 23-21 win at Memphis. He returned one pick 99 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter to give Ole Miss a 23-0 lead.

Jones won special teams honors after returning a kick 90 yards for a touchdown in a 46-26 win against Troy.

Georgia center Fernando Velasco was named SEC offensive lineman of the week and Auburn end Quentin Groves earned defensive line honors.

Alabama tailback Terry Grant was the SEC freshman of the week after scoring three touchdowns against Western Carolina.


BIRMINGHAM — UAB rushed for only 12 yards on 32 carries in Saturday’s 55-18 loss to Michigan State, which had one of the nation’s worst defenses in the past several years. But Blazers head coach Neil Callaway still had good things to say Monday about his offensive line.

UAB is starting a senior, a sophomore and three freshmen, including guard Caleb Thomas, a first-year player out of Decatur.

“Our pass protection was pretty decent,” said Callaway, whose team plays Florida State on Saturday. “We got pressure at times, but as many young guys as we play, I thought we did pretty decent. We need to be more physical in run-blocking, but really for a young group, it was pretty good.”

From staff, wire reports

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

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