COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTES
AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville was so impressed with Sen’Derrick Marks’ basketball skills, he offered the Mobile native a football scholarship.
During a recruiting trip, Tuberville stopped at Marks’ high school. Although Marks was not widely recruited, the coach had heard good things.
“He was practicing basketball at the time,” Tuberville said. “I got to watch him practice, to see how he handled the ball and how he jumped with his explosion. Before we left that day, we offered him a scholarship.”
Marks, who also starts on the defensive line, has been recently jumping with that same explosion. The 6-foot-1, 291-pounder blocked his second field goal of the season Saturday night against Florida.
Marks batted away a 34-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter.
Against South Florida he blocked a field-goal attempt and tipped another one.
So, what’s his secret?
“I can’t tell you my strategy,” Marks said laughing. “Then everybody would know. They’d copy me.”
Finally the redshirt sophomore gave in.
“I can see through the linemen, and when the protector throws his hands up, that’s when I go,” he said. “The offensive lineman hasn’t moved yet. He’s still sitting back on his heels, so I just push him over. It’s intensity, timing it, then jumping through and blocking it.”
In addition to his blocked field goal, Marks had four tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage. Marks was named by coaches as the defensive player of the week. He gets a special shirt to sport around, he says.
“We take pride in that,” Marks said. “You can wear it whenever. I’ll probably give it to my little brother.”
Florida coach Urban Meyer called a timeout just as the ball was snapped on kicker Wes Byrum’s first field-goal attempt to win Saturday night’s game. He kicked the ball, it went through and the Auburn sideline erupted in jubilation, rushing out onto the field in celebration.
Officials shooed the Tigers back to the sideline and
Byrum had to kick the field goal again. He made the 43-yarder for the second time and gave Auburn a 20-17 upset win over the Gators in Gainesville, Fla.
Tuberville looked at the situation as a practice shot. Byrum said it was like an “in-game warmup.”
“It gives the snapper an opportunity to snap and holder to hold it,” Tuberville said. “It kind of works the nerves out a little bit. You’ve kind of gone through it one time, and then you give them a second chance.”
Tuberville was asked how he would have handled the situation if he were in Meyer’s shoes.
“Giving them just one shot is more of what I’d do,” Tuberville said. “I don’t know if I would have waited that long to make the call. That could have backfired.”
After watching film of the game, Tuberville said he noticed that Meyer stood next to the line judge in anticipation of calling the timeout.
“I don’t know whether the rule states (that) you can stand next to the official. The official is supposed to be out on the field instead of standing next to the coach on the sideline,” Tuberville said Wednesday on the SEC teleconference. “I’ve never been able to get (an official) to stand beside me. That’s interesting.”
Tuberville said defensive end Quentin Groves remains doubtful for Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt. Groves hyper-extended three of his toes during the third quarter of the win at Florida.
“I’d hope he could come back maybe this week,” Tuberville said. “We’re not giving up on him.”
Groves suffered the injury when someone stepped on his foot. Tuberville said Groves’ toes bent backward. Tuberville said Groves’ injury is not as bad as a sprained ankle. Soreness in the toes seems to be the biggest issue.
“Basically, he has real sore toes,” he said. “Once he gets the soreness out, I think he’ll be fine.”
Groves is one sack shy of tying Gerald Robinson’s school record of 26. The senior from Mississippi is third on the team with 22 tackles and has a team-leading six tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hurries.
Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson missed the Commodores’ practice Wednesday but is expected to return to the team Thursday. Johnson was away attending a funeral.
Tuberville told reporters following Wednesday’s practice that starting linebacker Merrill Johnson practiced and is “85 to 90 percent.” Johnson has been out since the second game of the season when he suffered a shoulder injury.
Daily sports writer
TUSCALOOSA — For the first time in his football-playing career, Terry Grant felt fear Saturday.
After a 27-yard screen pass in the second quarter against Florida State, Grant was knocked out of bounds and hit his head and neck on the turf, causing his left shoulder to go numb.
Grant stayed down for a few minutes and then walked off the field under his own power. It wasn’t the same shoulder that he hurt last season, which caused him to miss all but three games, but that didn’t prevent Grant from freaking out a little bit.
“That was probably the first time I’ve ever gotten scared in my career,” Grant said.
When asked whether the hit helped cause a Grant fumble later in the quarter, the running back praised Florida State’s defense.
“I’m not sure,” Grant said. “I don’t think I had all my senses back at the time when I fumbled. They were a pretty tough team, had some hard licks and I sort of had the ball loose while I was changing it around and it kind of popped out.”
When running back Glen Coffee strode into the Naylor Stone media suite a week ago, it was tough to recognize him.
Coffee cut his customary long locks in favor of a closer shaved head.
The reason? Coffee is getting baptized and wanted to look good for his mother.
“I’m just trying to grow as a Christian,” Coffee said. “I plan on growing my hair back, but I did this for my momma also. So when she comes up there so she can see a clean-cut young man.”
Right guard Marlon Davis missed some time this week with what coach Nick Saban said was a death in the family. It is unclear whether Davis will play Saturday. On Tuesday, Antoine Caldwell had moved to Davis’ spot and Evan Cardwell was practicing at center.
Daily Sports Writer
BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football team followed Tuesday’s physical practice with a nearly two-hour session in shoulder pads Wednesday afternoon.
The Blazers, who are continuing preparations for Mississippi State on Saturday, were not as impressive as Tuesday, according to head coach Neil Callaway, but picked up the intensity towards the end of Wednesday’s practice.
UAB (1-3, 0-1 C-USA) and Mississippi State (3-2, 1-2 SEC) will kick off at 1:30 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.
From Staff, Wire reports
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