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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2007
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ALABAMA, AUBURN FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

Alabama

TUSCALOOSA — Wallace Gilberry may not know a lot about Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford right now, but Saturday, he’s hoping to get acquainted with the Bulldog sophomore.

“I don’t know anything about him. But after the game Saturday, I can tell you anything you want to know — his birthday, his telephone number, his home address. I’m serious, because I will know,” Gilberry said with a smile. “I’ve got to know where to send the flowers after the game.”

After several laughs by reporters, Gilberry said, “I’m just joking.”

So far on the season, Gilberry has 12 total tackles, 31/2 of which are for a loss.

Stafford has thrown for 621 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Last season, he was voted to the SEC’s All-Freshman team by the league coaches.

  • For one Alabama assistant coach, playing Georgia will be somewhat of a homecoming, even if the game won’t be in Athens, Ga.

    Defensive backs coach Kirby Smart played four years at Georgia and graduated in 1999 with a degree in finance. He finished his career with 13 interceptions — fourth all-time in the Bulldog record book.

    He was an administrative assistant with the Bulldogs in 1999, and was the team’s running backs coach in 2005 before joining Nick Saban’s staff with the Miami Dolphins in 2006 as its safeties coach.

    “Kirby is a fine young coach and has done an outstanding job for us, and I think that he learned a lot when he was at Georgia both as a player and a coach,” said Saban “It’s his alma mater. Even though we try to focus on the task at hand week in and week out, I’m sure without saying he would certainly like to do well against them.”

  • Saban said that wide receiver DJ Hall (strained quadricep) is “probable” for Saturday’s game. Linebacker Darren Mustin has been limited in practice and will be a game-time decision.

    Josh Cooper,

    Daily Sports Writer

    Auburn

    AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville said Wednesday that quarterback Brandon Cox may get more snaps in practice this week than true freshman Kodi Burns.

    “Brandon and (Burns) will practice probably the same amount — maybe Brandon a few more snaps,” Tuberville said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference teleconference. “It will be that situation all year long.”

    Cox and Burns are both expected to play against New Mexico State on Saturday, but Tuberville again refused to divulge a starter Wednesday.

    Tuberville called Burns “a heck of an athlete,” and said that in the future he is “going to be a great quarterback in this conference.” Tuberville said the 18-year-old still has much to learn about the offense.

    “There will be situations where Brandon will play because of that,” Tuberville said. “Whether (Burns) starts or not, he’s a big part of the game plan. He gives us that extra dimension.”

  • Starting linebackers Tray Blackmon (ankle) and Merrill Johnson (shoulder) will again probably not play this Saturday. Tuberville told reporters Wednesday that he expects the two back next week against Florida.

    Senior left tackle King Dunlap (elbow) did not practice and is unlikely to play, but Tuberville said that guard Mike Berry is back to 100 percent after suffering a shoulder injury against Mississippi State.

    Punter Ryan Shoemaker may have lost his job. Shoemaker, who suffered a dislocated elbow against South Florida, is close to returning.

    Walk-on Patrick Tatum has replaced him the last six quarters and impressed coaches, averaging 40 yards a punt ad pinning the
    opponent inside the 1-yard line twice. Tuberville said “it’s going to be a battle” once Shoemaker returns.

  • Kicker Wes Byrum is hoping he can kick off against New Mexico State (2-1).

    Byrum twisted his ankle in the season-opening win over Kansas State. He has attempted seven field goals and made six since the injury but has been unable to kick off for the Tigers (1-2, 0-1 SEC).

    Byrum said the ankle “doesn’t hurt at all,” but the injury is still hindering his running ability, something he would have to do on kickoffs.

    “I’m not fluently running,” the true freshman said earlier in the week. “Hopefully, I get that ironed out this week.”

    Tuberville told reporters that Byrum is close to returning. Zach Kutch has been kicking off in Byrum’s place. Special teams coach Eddie Gran said the kickoff return team is missing Byrum’s length.

    Ross Dellenger,

    Daily Sports Writer

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