News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



AUBURN — Decatur High grad Jerraud Powers prefers to play a team like Arkansas — which runs the ball 70 percent of the time.

A starting cornerback, Powers has seen the likes of the pass-heavy, spread offense teams of New Mexico State, Kansas State and Florida. The sophomore says he likes playing a team that runs the ball more than it passes.

"When you've got to play a team that passes 50 times, they can score easily and quick," said Powers, who is fourth on the team with 29 tackles and second with four pass breakups. "When you play the run, if you stop the run, it makes them go to the passing game, which they're uncomfortable with, and it helps us out as a defense."

Powers will find himself attacking and crowding the line of scrimmage more than he will be chasing receivers down the field. Arkansas runs the ball 52 times a game and attempts 24 passes an outing.

Powers says Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones are the top two backs Auburn will face all year.

"McFadden's going to be the best back we face, and Felix is probably going to be the second-best," he said. "They're going to get Felix and McFadden the ball, and we've just got to stop them. If we can stop the run, then we're going to be OK."

McFadden and Jones enter this weekend's contest ranked third and eighth in the nation in yards per game. The duo combined for 249 rushing yards last season against the Tigers, as Arkansas knocked off then-No. 2 Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium 27-10. The Razorbacks threw the ball 10 times, twice in the second half.

Powers says two big plays — a 50-yard touchdown pass by Mitch Mustain and a 63-yard touchdown run by McFadden — were the difference in the game.

n After saying Tuesday that Auburn's five injured starters could play an emergency role this weekend if needed, Tuberville told reporters following Wednesday's practice the chance of that looks bleak.

"It doesn't look like we'll get any of those guys back," Tuberville said.

Those guys include: Defensive end Quentin Groves (dislocated toes), center Jason Bosley (knee), linebackers Tray Blackmon (ankle) and Merrill Johnson (shoulder), and safety Aairon Savage (knee).

n Wes Byrum just keeps pulling in the awards.

Auburn's true freshman kicker has been named the Alabama Athlete of the Month of September by the United States Academy.

Byrum made 8 of his 10 field goal attempts to start his collegiate career.

He hit a 43-yard field goal with no time remaining to lift Auburn over then-No. 4 Florida two weeks ago. Byrum was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week following that game, and his kick earned Auburn the Pontiac "Game Changing Performance" Award.

Byrum finished the voting for the Alabama Athlete of the Month ahead of former Mobile Baybear player Justin Upton and Alabama volleyball player Crystal Hudson.

The Academy's Alabama Athlete of the Month is selected by a voting committee comprised of former Alabama athletes, statewide media, and Alabama sports organization representatives.

Each Alabama Athlete of the Month winner is automatically added to the Alabama Athlete of the Year ballot at the end of the calendar year.

n The way starting fullback Carl Stewart looks at he just did his job Saturday.

A senior from Tennessee, Stewart won the offensive player of the week award for his play against Vanderbilt.

The 6-foot-2, 229-pound bruising blocker helped Auburn rack up 239 rushing yards against the Commodores.

"I just did what the coaches told me to," Stewart said.

He is also on kickoff return and kickoff coverage. He credits Auburn's offensive resurgence to attitude.

"We're not taking anybody softly," he said.

He charted five knockdowns and also had one catch for 9 yards.

"He just played a complete football game," offensive coordinator Al Borges said.

Ross Dellenger,
Daily sports writer


TUSCALOOSA — Believe it or not, it's been five years since the "Bluegrass Miracle."

The game in which LSU wide receiver Devery Henderson caught a 75-yard "Hail Mary" touchdown pass from Marcus Randall to beat Kentucky 33-30 in 2002.

This weekend, the Tigers go to Lexington for the first time since then. Following the game, then-LSU coach Nick Saban said that it was a "lucky" play and bemoaned his defense blowing a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead. Sound familiar?

On Wednesday morning's SEC teleconference Saban was asked about that event by the LSU media.

"It's one of those games you never forget," Saban said.

"I don't think anybody on that team will ever forget that. It was a great football game. There is no doubt about that. Two very good football teams and we were fortunate to win a close game that day and that was one of the most difficult atmospheres we have ever had to compete against."

n In a year of statistical oddities for the Crimson Tide, cornerback Simeon Castille did not have an interception until his game-winning pickoff against Houston on Saturday.

Last season, Castille led Alabama with six. While he hasn't been near the right places to catch the ball, Castille is contributing in other ways, said Saban.

"It's just like a batter (in baseball), the guy doesn't hit any home runs in 25 at-bats. Maybe he didn't have any good pitches to hit," Saban said.

"Simeon's doing a great job for us. He's playing great. He's playing with as much consistency as anybody on our defensive team."

When asked whether his lack of interceptions was bothering him, Castille didn't sound perturbed.

"I'm not really thinking 'oh my gosh, I don't have any interceptions yet,'" Castille said. "I mean, I'm just trying to do my job and help our team win and help our defense be successful. That's really the bottom line. Plays are going to come. You just can't try to force them."

n The reporter who asked Saban this question on Monday said it best: "This wouldn't be an Alabama press conference without a Jimmy Johns question."

That preface led into a
question about Johns' perplexing situation.

From potential starting running back at the end of last season, to second string at the beginning of this year, to just a special teams player now.

The former Mississippi Mr. Football has 35 yards on 13 carries, which averages out to 2.7 yards per carry. Last season, Johns had 254 yards on 59 attempts for a 4.3 average.

"We do need to create a role for Jimmy Johns to play," Saban
said."Jimmy went through a couple tough weeks. He's come back nicely from that, and is doing a better job out there in practice, and we need to create a better opportunity for him to play."

Josh Cooper, Daily Sports Writer


BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football team continued its preparations here Wednesday for Saturday's homecoming game against Conference USA foe Tulane.

Head coach Neil Callaway was pleased with Wednesday's 17-period as his team gets ready for the contest with the Green Wave set for 6 p.m. at Legion Field.

"I thought it was a pretty good Wednesday," said Callaway.

"We had a little bit of competition and I thought that went fairly well."

The rest (of practice) was rehearsing against Tulane (1-4, 0-1 C-USA). The Blazers (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) are hoping to slow down a Tulane running game that features one of the top backs in the country in senior Matt Forte.


NASHVILLE — When time came for Earl Bennett to go to college, none of the Southeastern Conference powerhouses he'd hoped to play for called. Only Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and he chose the SEC's only private school.

"It was kind of crazy and kind of disappointing," Bennett said. "My parents thought I would go to Alabama or Auburn, being an in-state product. But neither school offered me a scholarship. It's their loss, I guess."

Thanks to the brotherly love that created a sure-handed receiver, Bennett has spent the past three seasons making the SEC pay for the lack of attention.

They missed out on a two-time All-SEC receiver who is seven catches from becoming the league's career receptions leader, which could happen Saturday when Vanderbilt hosts No. 24 Georgia.

Six catches ties him with record-holder Craig Yeast, who caught 208 for Kentucky.

From Staff, Wire Reports

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

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