News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



TUSCALOOSA — For safety Sam Burnthall, it's about the team goals. He is happy about Alabama's good start. He says that everything is going "good," but there is something missing. Specifically playing time.

Burnthall was hoping to get in at defensive back on some series this year, but instead has been relegated to special teams duty. Vanderbilt is the only game he has seen action this year. He replaced the injured Glen Coffee on special teams during the second half.

"It has been a little bit disappointing going from last year and playing a whole lot," Burnthall said. "But that's a decision the coaches make, and I have to try to do more to show them that they need to put me in more."

For now, the Decatur High grad said that he is concentrating more on special teams and working up the depth chart.

"I am still trying to work my way up and work my way into more special teams because I have only gotten in a little bit, and right now, it looks like that's all I'm going to do."

  • In Alabama's first three games of the season, special teams have played a major role in giving the Tide stellar field position. But against Georgia, the Crimson Tide struggled.

    Alabama had a 9-yard punt return and averaged 16 yards on kick off returns.

    According to return specialist Javier Arenas, Alabama was going for a punt block on his lone return, so his yardage on the play was more than it seemed. The execution on the kickoffs was another story.

    "We weren't executing our blocks on kick returns," Arenas said. "Kickoff return was simply didn't execute. Everybody didn't execute."

    Arenas was named one of Alabama's special teams players of the week along with Chris Rogers.

  • Alabama could be getting two players back this week on defense. Linebacker Darren Mustin (shoulder) should be able to play according to Saban, and nose tackle Brian Motley (broken ankle) has practiced for two days and also could see some time. Motley injured the ankle Aug. 28 and has missed every game this season.

    Josh Cooper,
    Daily Sports Writer


    AUBURN — Normally a scout team safety, Athens High grad Jonathan Vickers has a much larger role this week: posing as Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

    Vickers will face Auburn's starting defense throughout the week in the role of Tebow — the fourth-ranked Gators dual-threat quarterback.

    That means a lot of hits for the redshirt junior.

    "They weren't slacking off any. I took one from (starting linebacker) Tray Blackmon. I guess he's already looking forward to Saturday," Vickers said.

    Vickers came to Auburn as a quarterback but was moved to defensive back. He was surprised just minutes before Tuesday's practice when coaches informed him that he would act as the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Tebow, who leads Florida in rushing and passing.

    Vickers, a 6-foot-2, 207-pounder, thought he would impersonate Tebow only during running plays. He expected backup quarterback Neil Caudle to do the passing, but coaches left Vickers on the field to throw for the first time in two years.

    Vickers plans to watch film on Tebow throughout the week as he continues to mimic Florida's sophomore quarterback. Vickers said the scout team is running Florida's "gun-run package," which includes plenty of quarterback rushes.

    Vickers played quarterback during his true freshman and redshirt freshman seasons. He nearly made the traveling squad last season as Auburn's emergency quarterback.

    Because of the inexperience of incoming freshmen Caudle and Steven Ensminger, offensive coordinator Al Borges approached Vickers last season about being the third-string quarterback behind starter Brandon Cox and backup Blake Field.

    The plan fizzled, and Vickers remained a scout team safety — that is until this week when he was called on to imitate a Heisman Trophy candidate.

  • Coach Tommy Tuberville told reporters following Wednesday's practice that running back/kickoff returner Tristan Davis may play "a little" this Saturday against Florida.

    Davis has been sidelined the last six weeks with a fractured toe he suffered during preseason practice, but Monday he was cleared by doctors to start practicing.

    "He's still a little sore," Tuberville said. "I think we'll get a little out of him this week. We don't want to push him too much."

    Davis was expected to be a reserve tailback this season and the starting kickoff returner. Last season Davis led the SEC and was 15th in the nation in kickoff returns.

    Pat Lee has replaced Davis as the kickoff returner. Lee, who also starts at cornerback, is playing more than 70 plays a game, Tuberville said.

    "Pat Lee needs to rest a little bit more," he said. "It's going to help him, once we get Tristan back."

    But Tuberville said "Lee's faster than (Davis) right now."

    "He's not Tristan Davis yet," Tuberville said. "He's not the flash you normally see."

  • Tuberville told reporters that true freshman linebacker Brent Slusher was involved in a car accident and will not make the trip to Gainesville, Fla.

    Tuberville said Slusher will play next week against Vanderbilt. Slusher has been playing on special teams.

    Tuberville also told reporters that senior left tackle King Dunlap may not make the travel squad because of a lingering wrist injury. Dunlap was replaced in the starting lineup Saturday by true freshman Ryan Pugh.

    Ross Dellenger,
    Daily sports writer

    South Florida

    TAMPA, Fla. — The nation's leader in sacks doesn't have a compelling story to tell about how he wound up playing for No. 18 South Florida.

    It was simple, really. The Bulls called and George Selvie was more than happy to listen. "I got recruited by D-II (Division II schools) and South Florida was my only D-I offer," Selvie said. "I wanted to play D-I football, so I came to South Florida."

    The decision has worked out nicely for the 6-foot-2, 245-pound defensive end, as well as coach Jim Leavitt, who had a hunch the former high school offensive lineman had the ability to make an impact on the other side of the ball.

    Selvie leads the nation in sacks (8.5) and tackles for losses (15) heading into Friday night's Big East showdown against fifth-ranked West Virginia. He had a breakout game last season when he made eight tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown to help the Bulls upset the Mountaineers 24-19 in Morgantown.


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — If Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson hopes to extend his NCAA record number of passes thrown without an interception, he'll have to do it Saturday against the nation's interception leader.

    Florida Atlantic cornerback Tavious Polo, who has six interceptions in the Owls' first four games, certainly has impressed Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "He's a ball hawk, obviously," Brooks said. "He's got good hands, and he just makes great breaks on the ball. I don't think I've ever heard of anybody getting six picks in four games.""


    BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football team continued scout team preparations for 18 periods Wednesday afternoon as it closes in on its Conference USA opener at Tulsa on Saturday night. Kickoff is 6 p.m.

    UAB head coach Neil Callaway said he felt good about his team's progress when talking to the media after practice. "It was OK today," he said. "We got a lot more scout team looks on Tulsa."

    From Staff, Wire Reports

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

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