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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2007
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College Football Notebook

Alabama

TUSCALOOSA — First-year head coach Nick Saban apparently wants Alabama football fans to straighten up.

Saban addressed fan behavior during his weekly news conference Monday.

“I don’t care if you are a supporter, or you’re a fan, or whatever you do, the way you support the team should be done with class as well,” Saban said. “And I think that should be something that is an identity that we have as an institution, as a program and as a state.”

He declined to say if he was speaking about fans in the Bryant-Denny Stadium student section allegedly throwing cups and other objects at Georgia players Saturday as they celebrated a 26-23 overtime win over Alabama.

When pushed further about why he was making the unsolicited statement, Saban said, “I don’t think it’s classy to throw something on somebody else. I don’t think it’s classy to call somebody’s house at night and complain about something. I don’t think any of that is classy.”

Saban would not say who received the late-night phone call, mentioning that he does not answer his phone.

? And on the second day, Alabama rested. For the first time this season. Alabama did not practice Monday, although it had team meetings, a walk through and then stretched.

According to players, Saban likes to give his players two days off every six weeks. Judging by their comments, it sounds like they needed it.

“Everybody needs a little break every now and then,” Tide safety Rashad Johnson said. “You go at it so long and so hard that your body gets tired and gets worn down, so I think it is a good thing.”

During preseason practice, Saban said one day of rest doesn’t do much to help players, but a two-day break does more in aiding recovery after long stretches of playing.

? After last season ended, it appeared Jimmy Johns would inherit Alabama’s starting running back job. Now, Saban is trying to find a role for him.

Saban has moved Johns to fullback, to running back and now to special teams. So far on the season, Johns has 35 yards on 13 carries, last amongst Alabama’s running backs.

“We need for Jimmy to have a role,” Saban said. “He’s a good football player. We want him to have a role.

“He has to do his part in getting ready to fulfill that role, and we have to do a good job as coaches in figuring out what that is and how he can be effective in helping us.”

Josh Cooper, Daily Sports Writer

Auburn

AUBURN — Auburn receivers dropped three passes in Saturday night’s 55-20 win over New Mexico State, while Tigers cornerback Jonathan Wilhite caught two interceptions thrown by Aggies quarterback Chase Holbrook.

When asked if he has chided receivers about that, Wilhite began, “I actually got a camp started ...”

He was jokingly referring to a pass-catching camp. Normally a shy, conservative person, Wilhite’s dry sense of humor caught reporters by surprise, and he received some laughter for his unusual jest.

“Things like (drops) happen,” Wilhite said, seriously. “We dropped a few picks a couple of weeks ago. ... Sometimes you just want it so bad.”

A Louisiana native, Wilhite began the season as Auburn’s starting cornerback, but a hamstring injury he suffered during the opener has slowed him. Pat Lee started in his place against Mississippi State.

Last week, Wilhite started, but only because Auburn played five defensive backs against New Mexico State’s spread attack. Since the injury, Wilhite has moved to nickel-back — the fifth defensive back and third cornerback behind Lee and Decatur High grad Jerraud Powers.

Auburn may find itself playing a similar defense against the spread-shotgun attack of Florida this week. Wilhite said his hamstring was sore following the game, but he is “ready to go” this week.

When asked if Powers and Lee would be the starting cornerbacks this week, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said, “They’re all starters. We’ll have to mix and match based on where we are with some injuries. All those guys will play a lot.”

Wilhite’s only other interception came during his sophomore year against Kentucky. He started six games that year and 10 last season.

“Wilhite had a great game for us,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. “That was a big difference in the game — how he played. We were able to put him one-on-one with some of their fast receivers.”

? Quarterback Brandon Cox gave himself a letter grade of “B” and said coaches gave him a “90 percent” mark for his performance against New Mexico State.

Cox, who will be the Tigers’ starter against third-ranked Florida, completed 13 of his 19 attempts and scored two touchdowns.

“There’s still a couple of passes I should have hit,” said Cox, a senior from Birmingham.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said Cox made correct checks at the line of scrimmage — something that was missing from the three-year starter’s repertoire during the first three games of the season.

“He had some really good plays, a couple of simple check-downs under a lot of pressure that gained a lot of yards,” Borges said,

Cox said one of those checks at the line turned into a run of more than 20 yards. He also said he finally stopped forcing the ball. Through the first three games, he threw six interceptions but had none Saturday.

? Auburn’s game against Vanderbilt on Oct. 6 will be televised by Lincoln Financial Sports with kickoff at 11:30 a.m. WZDX-54 carries the LFS broadcasts locally.

Ross Dellenger, Daily sports writer

South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s standout linebacker Jasper Brinkley will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, coach Steve Spurrier said in a news release Monday.

Brinkley, the team’s leading tackler from a year ago and on the preseason watch lists for the Lombardi and Butkus awards, suffered a right knee sprain during the Gamecocks’ 28-16 loss at No. 2 LSU on Saturday.

Athletics spokesman Steve Fink said Brinkley will need surgery, but he would not say whether the school planned to apply for a medical redshirt that could give the senior another year of eligibility at No. 16 South Carolina (3-1).

Brinkley had 21 tackles this year and led the team with two interceptions, including one in the final moments against Georgia that secured the Gamecocks’ 16-12 victory.

Southeastern Conference

BIRMINGHAM — Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard and Auburn punter Patrick Tatum were named Southeastern Conference players of the week on Monday.

Tebow accounted for 427 yards of total offense, including a school record 166 rushing yards by a quarterback, in Florida’s 30-24 win at Ole Miss.

He also had career-highs in completions (20), attempts (34) and rushing attempts (27). Tebow threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns.

His 427 total yards is a high for the SEC this season.

Woodyard had 17 tackles, forced a fumble and had a quarterback pressure in Kentucky’s 42-29 win at Arkansas.

He caused the fumble that Trevard Lindley returned 66 yards for a touchdown to pull Kentucky to within six points.

Woodyard became the first Kentucky player in 14 years to reach 300 tackles in his career (306).

Tatum earned special teams honors after averaging 45.5 yards on four punts, burying all four inside the 20-yard line in Auburn’s 55-20 win over New Mexico State.

The SEC offensive lineman of the week was Kentucky guard Jason Leger. LSU’s Glenn Dorsey won defensive honors.

The freshman of the week was Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno.

North Alabama

BIRMINGHAM — Kentwood, La., has produced more than Britney Spears.

The city also has produced a pretty fair football player in North Alabama senior Craig Fox, a strong safety. The Gulf South Conference named him its defensive player of the week for his performance in UNA’s 27-8 win Saturday over Southern Arkansas.

SAU seemed poised to score on the game’s opening possession, driving down to the Lions’ 8-yard line before Fox picked up a Muleriders’ fumble and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. North Alabama’s defense stiffened from there, holding the opposition scoreless until eight seconds left in the game. Fox finished with seven tackles, including one for loss of two yards.

Through three games, Fox is UNA’s leading tackler with 19 stops. He also has two tackles for loss, three pass break-ups and has returned an interception 52 yards.

UNA (3-0) plays at Arkansas Tech on Saturday at 6 p.m.

From staff, wire reports

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

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