COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
TUSCALOOSA — Alabama freshman running back Terry Grant gained 173 yards against Vanderbilt this season but has seen his production dip ever since then.
He went down to 96 the following week, then 80, then 36 against Florida State. And against Houston on Saturday, he had three carries for 12 yards, while teammate Glen Coffee rushed 30 times for 121 yards.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said nothing is wrong with Grant.
"Terry's not having any troubles," Saban said. "It's a case of somebody's doing good, somebody takes advantage of his opportunity and he's doing well in the game, so we stuck with him a little more."
At his Monday news conference, Saban strongly defended starting quarterback John Parker Wilson.
Saban was pressed on his confidence level in Wilson and whether backup Greg McElroy might get a shot at quarterback. According to Saban, he has faith in Wilson as a starter.
"My confidence in John Parker Wilson is good," Saban said. "John Parker Wilson needs to play — and we need to give him the opportunities to do what he can do. I'm not as disappointed in John Parker Wilson as everybody else is. I'm not talking about our staff. I'm talking about (reporters), because you all have these high expectations that are unrealistic for people so, then when they don't do it, you set them up to fail."
Wilson once again responded to criticism stemming from a fourth quarter that saw him go 0-for-4 with one interception against Houston. Overall,Wilson completed 15 of 27 passes for 157 yards.
"I don't put any extra pressure on myself," he said. "I know there's more expectations out of me. That's fine. We should go out and perform. I think I'm doing fine. I've just go to do what I'm doing and keep the offense going."
On Monday Saban announced Alabama's players of the week. On offense, running back Glen Coffee who rushed for a career high 121 yards on 30 carries and left tackle Andre Smith were players of the week.
On defense, defensive tackle Wallace Gilberry and safety Rashad Johnson won the awards. Gilberry had 11 tackles and Johnson made this third interception of the year. Chris Rogers and Charlie Higginbotham received the Tide's special teams honors.
Daily Sports Writer
AUBURN — Backup quarterback Blake Field was expecting to do his usual during Tuesday's practice: watch from the sidelines.
But surprisingly, he was approached by special teams coach Eddie Gran, who had an invitation for him to join Auburn's punt-return team.
"We're short some guys, and we need some help," Gran told Field.
Said Field: "Yeah, sure. Why not?"
So there he was — Auburn's backup quarterback covering Vanderbilt's deep snapper, keeping him away from punt-returner Robert Dunn.
How did the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Field do?
"He beat me down the field a few times," Field said. "I've just got to work on it because I've never done it before. Like, not even in elementary school. Nothing like that. I've never did any of that stuff."
A redshirt junior from Thomasville, Ga., Field has been the primary backup to Brandon Cox for the last two years, but true freshman quarterback Kodi Burns took command of that position this season.
Auburn's mounting injuries have caused depth problems, especially on defense. Coaches have been forced to pull starters from special teams duties to get them some rest.
"When you're having to play one of your backup quarterbacks on special teams, you know things are serious," Tuberville said. "But he's a good athlete. He did some good things. We'll put him on a few other special teams."
Field said he is working with the second-team kickoff and second-team kickoff return squads.
"I'm still just working with them, going to the meetings and seeing if I can learn something new," Field said. "It was a fun experience."
Field's only start of his Auburn career came in 2005 against Western Kentucky when he filled in for an injured Cox. He actually garnered SEC freshman of the week honors for his three-touchdown performance.
But instead of putting Field in this season when Cox struggled, coaches decided to go with the speedy Burns.
Athens native Jonathan Vickers was selected as the scout team offensive player of the week.
A 6-2, 207-pound junior, Vickers played the role of Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson during practice last week. Vickers, who is the third-string safety and normally plays a scout team defensive back, imitated Florida's Tim Tebow two weeks ago before the Tigers' game in Gainesville, Fla.
Both Tebow and Nickson are dual-threat quarterbacks, and both were unsuccessful against Auburn.
Nickson threw for 38 yards on 5-of-16 passing before being yanked in the third quarter. Tebow had a rough start against Auburn's defense before padding his numbers in the second half.
Fullback Carl Stewart received the offensive player of the week award. Linebacker Chris Evans won the defensive honor, and true freshman Mike McNeil got the award for special teams.
Auburn's game at No. 1 LSU on Oct. 20 will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. That doesn't bode well for Auburn.
Since 1960, LSU has won 77 percent of its night games in Tiger Stadium, the sixth-largest (92,400) on-campus venue in collegiate athletics. The Bayou Bengals have won 48 percent of their home games played during the day.
Daily sports writer
BIRMINGHAM — An injured foot has sidelined UAB offensive lineman Caleb Thomas, a former Decatur High standout, and he likely will miss the rest of the year.
Thomas started the Blazers' season-opening loss to Michigan State, when he was one of 12 true freshmen to play in that game. He came off the bench in the Blazers' third game of the year against Alcorn State, but he hasn't played since.
"He had a good start, but he's dealing with some injury issues," UAB coach Neil Callaway said.
"He's an outstanding football player and will be for a long time to come."
Daily Sports Editor
NASHVILLE — Chris Nickson's string of 17 straight starts at quarterback for Vanderbilt is in danger.
Commodores coach Bobby Johnson said Monday the junior's sporadic play has caused him to re-evaluate the position. Nickson threw for 38 yards on 5-for-16 passing during Saturday's 35-7 thumping loss at Auburn and was replaced by sophomore Mackenzie Adams, who didn't fare much better.
The pair will compete for the starting job this week.
"You want to have a guy who you can say is your starter so he can get more reps, and you want to have a backup," Johnson said. "It's going to be a priority to see who we have there, but we're not going to rush that decision either."
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas senior wide receiver Limas Sweed, whose 20 career touchdown catches rank No. 2 in school history, will undergo wrist surgery that is expected to end his college career, the team announced Monday.
Sweed will have surgery to repair ligament damage, trainer Kenny Boyd said. He first injured the wrist in the preseason but came back to play in the No. 23 Longhorns' first six games. He had just two catches in Saturday's 28-21 loss to Oklahoma and was taken out late in the game.
"I knew it was an injury I would be dealing with going into the season and I did everything I could to play through the pain and help the team," Sweed said.
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says he's pleased with the Vols' effort in their 35-14 victory over Georgia and that his team also came away relatively healthy.
"We (are) glad to get a really solid win against a good Georgia football team," he said. "It's certainly a step in the right direction."
The Vols are back in The Associated Press rankings, taking the final spot at No. 25 after holding Georgia to just 243 yards on Saturday.
BIRMINGHAM — LSU running back Jacob Hester, South Carolina defensive end Eric Norwood and Tennessee punter/place-kicker Britton Colquitt were named Southeastern Conference players of the week Monday.
Hester rushed for a career-high 106 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in LSU's 28-24 win over Florida. He had 77 yards in the second half and rushed eight times on the game-winning drive.
Norwood returned two fumbles for touchdowns in South Carolina's 38-23 win against Kentucky. He became just the fourth player in NCAA Division I history to return two fumbles for touchdowns in a single game.
Colquitt averaged 42 yards on six punts and also forced two touchbacks on six kickoffs in Tennessee's 35-14 victory against Georgia.
Three of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.
Auburn guard Tyronne Green was offensive lineman of the week, while Alabama's Wallace Gilberry earned defensive line honors.
South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley was the freshman of the week.
The Associated Press
Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
AP contributed to this report.
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!