ALABAMA, AUBURN FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
Lester returns Oct. 6
The NCAA has cleared Auburn running back Brad Lester to play, beginning with the Tigers' game against Vanderbilt on Oct. 6.
"I'm happy to have this behind me," Lester said in a release from the school Friday night. "I'm looking forward to moving on and playing in the Vanderbilt game."
Lester has rushed for 869 yards and 14 touchdowns in his Auburn career, including 510 yards and nine touchdowns in 104 carries in 2006.
"I'm proud of Brad's patience and how he's handled this throughout the process," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We're excited that we'll have him back on the playing field in the near future."
Dave Baker, the sideline reporter for Lincoln Financial Sports' SEC football telecasts, called it a "meat tenderizer."
He was referring of course to Pat Sims' gigantic club-like cast on his left hand, but it didn't seem to bother the 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive end. He recorded four tackles for loss against Mississippi State last week.
"I didn't use my left hand at all," Sims said. "It's hard with just one hand, but I have to go out there and do what I do."
Because of an injury, Sims wore a protective cast that stretched from his elbow and then wrapped around his left hand, forming a large black ball that encompassed his entire hand.
"He had no fingers to grab," Tuberville said. "That's pretty difficult when you are a defensive player."
Sims said he suffered the injury last week, but he was unsure exactly what he injured, saying, "I broke a bone in my hand, or ligaments, or something."
Sims said he may play without the cast for Auburn's game against New Mexico State on Saturday.
Sims said the hand was sensitive during the game. He hardly used it, letting it swing by his side as he fought to get into the backfield. When asked how he dealt with the pain, the Florida native said, "Everybody has their secrets."
Daily sports writer
TUSCALOOSA — If Alabama seems to execute well in bizarre situations you never thought would come up in a game, that's because the Tide practices those instances often.
Alabama coach Nick Saban gives his team a long list of game conditions to practice each week. Here is part of what the coach said his players go over:
"We do the last 15 seconds of the game, which came up in the last game," he said. "We do get-the-ball-back. We do last play of the game that we're going to run inside the 10, last play of the game that we're going to run inside the 25. We have a litany of things that we do on Friday in walk-through that are situational that can come up in a game that are not typically practiced."
Alabama practices its two-minute drill every week, and Saturday against Arkansas it paid off.
Said wide receiver DJ Hall: "When they come up in the game, you are like, 'Man, we went over this.' "
The preparation may help Alabama to a degree, but it's tough to simulate 92,138 screaming fans in a come-from-behind situation. That's more of a mental approach, which Saban also works upon.
"What we try to emphasize with the players is play the next play," Saban said.
"Focus on the next play, understand the situation look at the right things so you can execute and do what you need to do and don't let external factors in the game have any effect on what you are doing."
With linebacker Darren Mustin possibly out with a shoulder injury Saturday, Saban said he will not switch linebackers Rolando McClain, a Decatur High grad, or Prince Hall to Mustin's inside linebacker position.
He said that he probably will rotate both McClain and Hall at middle linebacker, and sophomore DeMarcus Waldrop would be the top candidate to replace Mustin.
"Since Rolando is a freshman, we hate to burden him with two positions," Saban said. "We will go with the more experienced older guy because of his adaptability to do it."
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