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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2007
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Alabama

TUSCALOOSA — Alabama offensive lineman Justin Britt said he hasn’t received an apology from Arkansas defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell after an incident between the two in the Tide’s 41-38 win Saturday.

Britt added that he wasn’t going to lobby for extra punishment for Mitchell, who yanked Britt’s helmet off his head and swung it at his head.

Mitchell was ejected from the game, and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt has suspended him from Saturday’s contest with Kentucky.

“It wasn’t a big deal to me,” Britt said. “I was getting after it just as much as he was getting after it. He slipped up after the play, but I’m just going to let everybody else handle that.”

  • Alabama receiver Nikita Stover has stood on the sidelines, waiting for his number to be called.

    The Hartselle High grad has just one catch this season, a 10-yard grab against Western Carolina in the opener.

    But if he is upset at his production numbers, he’s not showing it.

    “I’m just going with the flow,” Stover said. “As long as we go out there and get the win, we have receivers we can depend on and help in any kind of way.”

    Stover said he looks at his fellow receivers like family — if someone else makes a big catch, he feels a level of pride for that person.

    “I mean, everybody wants to make that happen, but we all look at each other like brothers,” Stover said. “Whoever makes it will be just as happy if we made it.”

  • The location for ESPN’s College GameDay show has been set. It will be on the Walk of Champions Plaza in front of the North end zone.

    The show will air from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday. It is the 10th time Alabama will be on the show and the first since the Tide played LSU in 2005.

    JoshCooper,
    Daily Sports Writer

    Auburn

    AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville told reporters following Thursday’s practice that he expects a resolution soon involving the status of suspended starting running back Brad Lester.

    “I think (we’ll) hear something in the next 48 hours or so,” Tuberville said.

    Lester has been practicing with the team for the last three weeks. He was indefinitely suspended one day before the opener against Kansas State for lingering academic issues.

    “He could play this afternoon,” Tuberville said. “I don’t know whether that’s a reality, dealing with what we’re dealing with. We’d like to get a little closure on it, give him some idea what he’s doing.”

    Auburn is down to two tailbacks: sophomore Ben Tate and redshirt freshman Mario Fannin. Running back Tristan Davis, who fractured a toe in preseason practice, is expected to return soon, but the Tigers are two injuries away from being depleted.

    Lester, who backed up Kenny Irons last season, rushed for 510 yards on 104 carries and scored nine touchdowns in 2006. He was suspended for January’s Cotton Bowl against Nebraska because of academic issues.

    Lester has not been allowed to talk with reporters.

  • Senior cornerback Pat Lee may have won his starting job back.

    He came into the season as a starter, but he lost that spot to Decatur High grad Jerraud Powers during preseason practice. With cornerback Jonathan Wilhite out with an injury, Lee has impressed coaches with his play the last two weeks.

    “Pat deserves to start,” defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. “He’s played really well for us.”

    A hamstring injury suffered in the opener continues to slow Wilhite. Lee got the 10th start of his career against Mississippi State. He has broken up five passes and forced a fumble this season, but he dropped an interception in the first quarter against Mississippi State.

    “Oh man, I’ve gotten a lot of calls over that,” Lee said, laughing. “It’s been three weeks in a row that I have dropped a pick.”

    Still, the Auburn secondary, especially the cornerbacks, have been a surprising strength for this 1-2 team. Powers and Lee both graded out the best in the Mississippi State game. The Tigers pass defense ranks 30th in the nation, allowing 171 yards a game.

    It will be tested this week against New Mexico State, which attempts 50 passes a game.

    “This is where it’s at, right here,” Lee said, sounding excited about the pass-happy Aggies. “This is where everything depends on how we play in the secondary.”

  • Tuberville confirmed Thursday that starting middle linebacker Tray Blackmon (ankle) will not play against New Mexico State. After twisting an ankle in the opener, Blackmon has missed the last two games.

    “He’s just got one real sore weak spot that’s not coming around,” Tuberville said.

    Others who will be out include linebacker Merrill Johnson (shoulder), left tackle King Dunlap (elbow) and guard Leon Hart. Punter Ryan Shoemaker “is ready to go,” Tuberville said. It was not clear if Shoemaker would play, but Tuberville said that he will “have to wear a brace.” Shoemaker dislocated his elbow during the South Florida game.

    Walk-on punter Patrick Tatum has filled in for Shoemaker and impressed coaches. Tuberville said there could be competition when Shoemaker returns.

    Tuberville told reporters that kicker Wes Byrum may kick off Saturday. Byrum has not kicked off since suffering a twisted ankle in the opener, but he has made 6 of 7 field goal attempts.

    Ross Dellenger,
    Daily sports writer

    Tennessee

    KNOXVILLE — Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says two true freshmen may start in the secondary when the Vols host Arkansas State on Saturday.

    Eric Berry could start at safety, and Brent Vinson may start at cornerback, Fulmer said Thursday.

    Vinson, who was recruited as a wide receiver but played both sides of the ball in high school, moved to cornerback to give the Vols added depth at the position.

    “He’s come along better than I could have ever imagined,” Fulmer said. “He wanted to play receiver, but now he just wants to play and that’s good.”

    Fulmer said sophomore tailback Montario Hardesty will be available after a 37-yard outing against No. 3 Florida.

    Notre Dame

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame might release Demetrius Jones from his scholarship after all, as long as the sophomore quarterback transfers to a school that is not on the Irish football schedule.

    Jones, who started the season opener, quit the team last week and told reporters he had enrolled at Northern Illinois.

    On Wednesday, athletic director Kevin White said Jones wouldn’t be released from his scholarship. In a statement Thursday night, however, White said the university has offered to help Jones find an acceptable school.

    “We are helping Demetrius compile a list of prospective schools that are not on our immediate future football schedules. We will grant him a release to those schools, and we will assist him in settling at another institution as best we can,” White said.

    That list will not include Northern Illinois, however, said John Heisler, Notre Dame’s senior associate athletic director. Jones still could play for the Huskies next season, but he would have to pay his own way this year.

    UAB

    BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football team has the weekend off, but that did not stop the Blazers from putting in a 15-period practice with shoulder pads and helmets Thursday.

    The Blazers started practice slow but picked up intensity halfway through the practice, and head coach Neil Callaway could tell his team is excited to have the weekend off.

    “Today’s practice was okay,” Callaway said. “Early on I thought they were kind of going through the motions, but the practice picked up as we went through it.

    “You can tell the players are excited at having the weekend off and being able to go home and see their families, which is good because they haven’t been home since the beginning of camp.”

    The Associated Press

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

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