News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

College Football Notebook


TUSCALOOSA — After Alabama’s first touchdown in Saturday’s 41-38 win over Arkansas, the Bryant-Denny Stadium announcer called Leigh Tiffin’s name as the Tide’s extra-point kicker.

However, that was incorrect. Instead, it was Andrew Friedman.

Tiffin got caught in a scrum trying to tackle Arkansas running back Darren McFadden on the Razorbacks’ opening kickoff and hurt his shoulder.

After the play, Tiffin went into the locker room to have a brace put on the shoulder before coming back out and continuing his duties as Alabama’s starting kicker.

Tiffin tried three field goals, making two. He was good from 24 and 42 yards and missed from 37 yards.

It was a far cry from a year ago, when Tiffin missed a go-ahead field goal near the end of regulation in a 24-23 overtime loss to Arkansas. He then missed a field goal that would’ve won the game in overtime. He also missed an extra point.

“I just tried not to doubt myself at all,” Tiffin said. “I just believed in my ability to do what they obviously think I can do. I told myself, ‘I’m not going to look at the scoreboard. I don’t care what time of the game it is. I don’t care what the score is. I’m going to try to make the kick no matter what, so why put any extra pressure on myself?’ ”

? Alabama made a return to the polls on Sunday, in a big way. The Crimson Tide went from being unranked to being No. 16 in the Associated Press poll and climbed to No. 20 in the USA Today coaches poll.

It is Alabama’s first time in the AP poll since finishing the 2005 season at No. 8. The Crimson Tide was last in the USA Today poll in the week before last season’s Arkansas game on Sept. 23. Alabama was ranked No. 22, then fell out for the rest of the season after losing to the Razorbacks.

? Another week, another late kickoff for the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s game against Georgia on Saturday will be broadcast on ESPN with coverage set to start at 6:45 p.m. It is Alabama’s second straight ESPN game and third evening kickoff of the season.

Josh Cooper,
Daily Sports Writer


AUBURN — Auburn has been hampered with injuries to its defense during the early part of the year, but the offensive line took the brunt of it Saturday, with two starters and a backup hurt.

Tackle King Dunlap, and guards Mike Berry and Leon Hart suffered injuries in a 19-14 loss to Mississippi State.

The only returning starter from 2006, Dunlap sprained his elbow and wrist during the first quarter. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said he is “day-to-day.” In his first two games, Dunlap has not lived up to senior expectations. His grades from the coaches were at the rear of offensive linemen. Andrew McCain stepped in for Dunlap.

Berry’s injury was unclear. Both offensive line coach Hugh Nall and Tuberville didn’t know. Antwoin Daniels worked with the first team Sunday.

Hart, the former backup to Berry, suffered a separated shoulder and will be out six to eight weeks. Hart is eligible for a redshirt, and Tuberville said, “We might look at it.”

In other offensive injuries, kick returner Tristan Davis could return as soon as “a couple of weeks,” Tuberville said Sunday. Davis had surgery on a fractured toe during preseason practice.

“We’re not going to bring him back too early,” he said.

? Starting linebacker Tray Blackmon is still suffering from a lingering left ankle sprain he sustained in the opener against Kansas State. The sophomore was warming up with the starters Saturday and was announced as a starter before the game, but coaches held him out because of the injury.

Blackmon said Sunday that he feels like the ankle is 90 percent.

“I can run on it and cut on it and all that,” he said. “I just stand by and wait for (the coaches) to tell me if I’m going to get in. They ask me, and I tell them, ‘I’m feeling fine.’ ”

Tuberville said Blackmon is “getting closer,” but this week’s opponent, pass-happy New Mexico State, presents a challenge for the linebackers, who will be in charge of helping cover a four-and-five receiver set.

“I don’t know whether this week is going to be a week he can get back or not because this is going to be a lot of running this week and covering people,” Tuberville said. “I don’t know whether he’s going to be 100 percent healthy enough to run with backs and cover backs and tackle in the open field.”

Tuberville said safety Aairon Savage, who played sparingly Saturday, is about 70 percent. Savage suffered an ankle injury against South Florida. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite “was running” Sunday, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. Wilhite did not play against Mississippi State because of a hamstring injury he suffered in the first two games of the season.

“He’ll be day-to-day,” Muschamp said.

? Tuberville said Sunday that the status of suspended running back Brad Lester remains the same.

“I still haven’t heard anything,” Tuberville said. “Hopefully, it will clear up soon.”

? Auburn picked up its first basketball recruit of the 2008 class and one for 2009.
Three-star guard Frankie Sullivan from Uniontown announced he plans to sign with the Tigers, according to

Three-star forward Robert Chubb from Peachtree City, Ga., gave a public commitment to the Tigers earlier in the week.

Ross Dellenger,
Daily sports writer

Southern California

LINCOLN, Neb. — Top-ranked Southern California is confident its dismantling of Nebraska will satisfy anyone who doubted the Trojans.

They stated their case in Saturday’s 49-31 victory at Nebraska. In a nod to the glory days of Tailback U., the Trojans rolled up 313 yards on the ground in their most impressive rushing performance in two years.

The uninspired season-opening win over Idaho two weeks ago is a distant memory after the Trojans became only the third team in 20 years to win a night game in Lincoln and did it by scoring more points by an opponent at Memorial Stadium since Minnesota had 61 in 1945.

Had USC’s defensive reserves not allowed two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the outcome would have marked one of Nebraska’s most lopsided home losses ever.

“It was a great challenge, the first road game of the season,” USC defensive end Kyle Moore said. “If we continue to keep doing that through the season, we should be in New Orleans.”

New Orleans is site of the BCS title game.


EVANSTON, Ill. — Vincent Rey didn’t even need to see the ball hit the ground to know the nation’s longest losing streak had come to an end.

Rey and Ayanga Okpokowuruk rushed Northwestern’s C.J. Bacher into an incomplete pass on the final play and Duke snapped its 22-game skid with a 20-14 win Saturday night.

“I came to the quarterback and got knocked to the ground as he threw,” said Rey, who had eight tackles. “I got up and looked, but I didn’t see anything. All I did was see out of the corner of my eye all our guys jumping up and down.”

Thaddeus Lewis threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns for the Blue Devils, whose last win came on Sept. 17, 2005 against Virginia Military Institute. Duke (1-2) hadn’t defeated a major college team since Nov. 13, 2004, against Clemson, a span of 27 games.

Lewis entered the game 0-13 as a starter.

“To see the clock go to 0:00 and you are the winner is a great feeling,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy the moment, but I want there to be many more so I’m going to get ready and focused on Navy.”


LAS VEGAS — Colt Brennan’s right ankle was swollen and discolored.

It didn’t stop him from running for three touchdowns and passing for two more to lead 24th-ranked Hawaii to an easy 49-14 victory over UNLV on Saturday night.

Brennan said he twisted his ankle “screwing around” before practice on Friday. He said he received a shot on Saturday morning but didn’t entertain the possibility of sitting out because he had more than 100 family and friends on hand.

“I wanted to make a statement,” Brennan said. “There was no way I wasn’t going to come out and play this game. They’d have to cut my leg off for me not to come out and play.

“I knew if I shot it up and I came out here hobbling around with one foot and just made plays, it would do a lot for the team,” Brennan said. “And that’s what I tried to do.”

Brennan completed 26-of-32 passes for 298 yards in three quarters, setting an NCAA record by passing for more than 200 yards for the 29th straight time.


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas hopes Darren McFadden can come back strong next weekend against No. 21 Kentucky after being sidelined with a concussion late in Saturday night’s loss at Alabama.

McFadden ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the Razorbacks’ 41-38 loss to the Crimson Tide. But he had 33 carries and had to sit out late in the fourth quarter with a slight concussion.

“What a fierce competitor, unbelievable fighter, warrior — all the adjectives you want,” coach Houston Nutt said Sunday. “This guy is special. He’ll be out there and we’ll be smart with him. We’ve got to get him ready for 5 p.m. Saturday against Kentucky, that’s the bottom line.”

The Associated Press

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

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