ALABAMA, AUBURN FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
TUSCALOOSA — Alabama linebacker Darren Mustin thinks that his mother will be rooting for him Saturday.
A Brentwood, Tenn., native, Mustin didn't grow up a Vanderbilt fan. His mother, Diann, has a master's from Vandy.
"She is for me because I am her baby boy," Mustin said. "It's one of those feelings: You think of it as another game, but it's something special. You want to play really well in front of your hometown. I'm going to be in front of brothers and sisters that haven't seen me in awhile."
One of 13 children, Mustin transferred to Alabama in 2005 from Middle Tennessee State as a walk-on. He was given a scholarship for 2007 and is expected to start. "I've got a big family, so I need a lot of tickets," Mustin said.
If cornerback Simeon Castille has to defend Vanderbilt wide receiver Earl Bennett on Saturday, it will be the third time in their careers they've gone against each other on the football field.
While Vanderbilt and Alabama have played once since the two have been collegians, Bennett and Castille lined up against each other when Bennett's alma mater, West End High, played Castille's Briarwood Christian.
Alabama defensive back Eric Gray's 2007 debut didn't come until midway through the third quarter in Saturday's win over Western Carolina.
When asked whether he was planning on getting more playing time this week, Gray said, "I would hope so. I am looking forward to being more in the game plan. Wherever my role will be, I am looking to fulfill it to the best."
Gray, a West Morgan High graduate, said that against the Catamounts he played mostly cornerback, but he made a few appearances in Alabama's nickel package.
Daily Sports Writer
AUBURN — Receivers coach Greg Knox said true freshman receiver Chris Slaughter needs to work harder before he plays in a game.
"He's still a long way off," Knox said. "He's got to increase his work ethic. He's got to learn the game. It's a different speed. This is not prep-school football — it's the SEC. He's got to turn his motor up and work hard if he's gong to see that football field."
Knox said before the game he would use a six-man receiver rotation, but besides starters Rod Smith, Prechae Rodriguez and Robert Dunn, only two other receivers played — James Swinton and Tim Hawthorne.
Of the five, Smith, Swinton and Dunn each had one catch, while Rodriguez grabbed six passes for 73 yards.
Swinton, who says he's the fastest player on the team, had maybe the biggest catch of the game.
Down 13-9 with fewer than three minutes left, Auburn faced a second-and-four from the K-State 22.
Quarterback Brandon Cox zipped a slant pass behind the linebacker and in front of the cornerback to Swinton, who raced 10 yards after the catch to put Auburn inside the 5.
"Hopefully good things continue to happen for him," Knox said.
"We believe in him, otherwise he wouldn't be out there."
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