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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
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AUBURN, ALABAMA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

Auburn

AUBURN — Auburn's mounting injuries on defense are causing coaches to "pull the redshirt" from some true freshmen.

Linebacker Josh Bynes and cornerback Ryan Williams have been moved up the depth chart because of injuries to starters and could see playing time this week.

"They'll practice hard with us all week," defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. "We'll see how the week rolls to see how much they can contribute."

Bynes and Williams have not played a down in the first two games. Bynes, a 6-foot-2, 222-pounder, was bumped up to second-string linebacker after starting linebacker Merrill Johnson suffered a bruised shoulder Saturday. Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday that Johnson is "probably doubtful for the game."

"We might bring (Bynes) up and start looking at him," Tuberville said. "We're going to have to."

Starting defensive backs Jonathan Wilhite and Aairon Savage are both questionable for Saturday, moving Williams into a backup role.

Savage, the starting safety, suffered an ankle injury in the season opener. He didn't play against South Florida, but Tuberville said Tuesday that he has been practicing with the team and could play.

Wilhite, the starting cornerback, hurt his hamstring against South Florida. Tuberville said, "If (Wilhite) plays, it won't be the whole time. It's not going to be 100 percent."

"We might have to pull the redshirt off a lot of these guys just to make it through these games because of the injuries," Tuberville said.

"But you hate to do that — it knocks a year out of getting ready to play next year, and you have four years."

? In other injuries, Tuberville said linebacker Tray Blackmon, who didn't play against South Florida, practiced Tuesday but is "still limping a little bit."

The senior twisted his ankle during the season-opening win over Kansas State.

"I don't want him to go unless he's full speed," Tuberville said. "There's no reason. We've got other guys that can go."

Running back Tristan Davis shed his protective boot this week and is walking around, Tuberville said. Davis, a junior who was supposed to be in the mix at tailback this season, suffered a hairline fracture to his toe during preseason practice. He had a pin surgically put in shortly after the injury.

"Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, he can get back going," Tuberville said. "It's a process."

The coach said punter Ryan Shoemaker "is out this week." Shoemaker dislocated his left elbow Saturday and will be replaced with walk-on Patrick Tatum, who punted three times against South Florida for a 38-yard average.

When asked about suspended running back Brad Lester, Tuberville shook his head and said, "Same thing."

? After making all three of his field goals in Auburn's loss to South Florida Saturday, kicker Wes Byrum was named the Lou Groza star of the week.

Byrum, a true freshman, is tied for the national lead in field goals made with six.

He went 3-for-4 in the Tigers' win over Kansas State to open the season.

The top three finalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award are honored during the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award Banquet on Dec. 4.

Byrum twisted his ankle during the opening kickoff against K-State, and the ankle has prohibited him from kicking off.

Zach Kutch kicked off for the Tigers against South Florida, but Tuberville said Byrum "could possibly kick off this week."

Ross Dellenger,
Daily Sports Writer

Alabama

TUSCALOOSA — Following Alabama's win over Vanderbilt, Tide coach Nick Saban said his team needed to have better execution on its "explosive plays." The Crimson Tide failed to connect on several downfield passes.

An explosive play, according to Saban, is a run of more than 12 yards and a pass of more than 16 yards. A "big play" is a run of more than 15 yards or
a pass play of more than 20 yards.

While Saban said quarterback John Parker Wilson has done a solid job in managing the game, the players around him need to help him help carry his burden.

"I'm talking about everyone that's involved in the passing game," Saban said. "I've talked about this before. It's a little easier to play quarterback when the people around you play well."

? Kick returner Jonathan Lowe is trying to do his best Darren McFadden impression ... on Alabama's scout team.

This is difficult, considering not many players can become a 6-foot-2, 215-pound Heisman Trophy candidate overnight. Lowe is 5-7 and 184 pounds.

"I guess, with me, just trying to outrun guys because my stature is kind of small," Lowe said. "He is a giant compared to me. So he has speed, and I have somewhat of a little speed, so I will do my best to outrun them like he would do."

? Alabama linebacker Keith Saunders wore a black non-contact jersey Tuesday reserved for injured players, although his injury is undisclosed.

Running back Glen Coffee (shoulder) wore a black jersey as well.

Place-kicker Jamie Christensen worked out in a normal jersey but still hasn't kicked in a game situation this year. Near the end of preseason practice, he strained his quadriceps muscle.

Josh Cooper,
Daily Sports Writer

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