News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



TUSCALOOSA — Last season, Alabama coach Mike Shula kept the long-standing Crimson Tide tradition of playing Tennessee’s unofficial fight song, Rocky Top, in the team weight room and on the practice field during Tide-UT week.

First-year Alabama coach Nick Saban is using no such strategy.

“I’ve really never done much of that,” Saban said. “I don’t have a lot of experience in how that affects you one way or the other. I don’t have any plans to do it. If somebody else has plans to do it and wants to do it and thinks it’s going to help us, I’m all for it. But that’s not something (I do).”

Some players are thankful that the coaching staff chose not play the song all week.

“Last year, the whole week was Rocky Top,” said cornerback Simeon Castille. “That about drove me crazy.”

When asked whether hearing the song played over and over again had any effect on him, Castille replied, “It made me sick of hearing the song.”

  • For the first time since Saturday’s disputed play at the end of Alabama’s 27-24 win over Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide player involved in Shay Hodge’s reception-that-wasn’t spoke to reporters.

    Lionel Mitchell went up for the ball with Hodge but lost wrestling match to keep possession. At first it appeared Hodge had made a 42-yard reception, giving Ole Miss the ball at the Tide 3 with seven seconds left, but the officials ruled it an illegal catch.

    Mitchell said Tuesday he didn’t push Hodge out of bounds.

    “I knew he was behind me at first. Then I went to play the ball and I quit paying attention,” Mitchell said. “But after I watched film, we were both out of bounds.”

    Mitchell also said Hodge touched the ball first.

    The on-field officials ruled that Hodge went out of bounds on his own, and the replay official confirmed the call. That made him ineligible to catch the ball unless a Crimson Tide player touched the ball before he did.

  • Tide offensive lineman Justin Britt continued to practice Tuesday, but not with the first team. Antoine Caldwell remained at left guard with Evan Cardwell at center.

    Jonathan Lowe (ankle) rode an exercise bike in a black non-contact jersey.

    Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Alex Stadler did not practice Tuesday and was no longer with the team, according to Jeff Purinton, head of football media relations.

    Stadler was a four-star recruit in 2005 according to and from Liberty High in Bealeton, Va. He never played a snap at Alabama.

    Josh Cooper,
    Daily Sports Writer


    AUBURN — Tommy Tuberville sounded bleak Tuesday about the possibility of starting defensive end Quentin Groves playing in this weekend’s game at No. 5 LSU.

    Groves dislocated three toes against Florida three weeks ago and hasn’t played since. He dressed out last week against Arkansas but never saw the field. Tuberville said Groves practiced Tuesday but is only 70 to 80 percent healthy.

    Antonio Coleman and Antoine Carter have replaced the injured Groves.

    “We’re not going to play a guy that’s 70 to 80 percent in front of guys that are 100 percent and playing well,” Tuberville said. “There’s not a lot of dropoff there in terms of making plays.”

    It remains uncertain if tackle Ryan Pugh will play this weekend. Pugh sprained his ankle against Arkansas. Tuberville said he did not practice Tuesday. Pugh could begin practicing with the team later this week.

    Safety Aairon Savage practiced “some” Tuesday and is “probably a few days away from being the player he needs to be to play in a game like this,” Tuberville said.

    Savage has been hampered by a knee injury he suffered against Florida.

    Linebacker Merrill Johnson played sparingly against Arkansas, but Tuberville said Johnson is “doing good” and should see more snaps this week.

  • Tuberville on Tuesday compared his defense to that of LSU’s. The two defenses are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the SEC.

    “We’re built on the same mold of speed and quickness,” Tuberville said. “We don’t blitz a lot. Neither do they.”

    Tuberville did point out some differences. LSU plays more of a four-man front, while Auburn normally has just three down linemen.

    The coach expects to see yet another defensive battle. The two teams have combined to score an average of 22 points in the last three meetings.

  • Tuberville said he meant to give true freshman quarterback Kodi Burns more snaps during the Tigers’ game at Arkansas on Saturday night.

    An Arkansas native, Burns replaced starter Brandon Cox for just two snaps when the senior exited briefly with a chin injury in the third quarter. Tuberville said because of a small lead and bad field position, Burns was kept on the sideline.

    “We had a bigger role for him (Saturday) night, but we couldn’t get ourselves out of a hole,” the coach said. “We want to play him more. We definitely want to do that. That was just one of those situations where he might have been a little more nervous than what he normally would have been.”

  • Receiver Rod Smith was ruled out of bounds after catching a pass against Arkansas. The play was reviewed and overturned, as the junior drug a foot in bounds.

    After the play, but before the review, Smith had a conversation with an old friend, Arkansas safety Michael Grant. The two played little league football together.

    “He was telling me that the ref wasn’t going to give it to me because we were in his house,” Smith said. “Then the ref gave it to me.”

    Ross Dellenger,
    Daily sports writer

    North Alabama

    FLORENCE — The North Alabama football team has climbed one spot to No. 2 in the latest NCAA Division II poll, but it’s the fifth ranked Delta State Statesmen that have the Lions’ attention this week.

    UNA had been ranked third nationally all season until North Dakota lost Saturday to Nebraska-Omaha, moving the Lions up one spot. But UNA’s next opponent, Delta State, also climbed in the poll after a win over previously unbeaten Valdosta State on Thursday.

    That sets the stage for a showdown Thursday when the two teams meet in Florence.

    For the second straight year the UNA-Delta State game is a non-conference battle. The two are tied at the top of the GSC standings at 5-0 and are the only two unbeaten teams in the league. But this game is not part of the conference schedule.

    This will be UNA’s first game this season against a ranked opponent. The Lions are 14-6 against ranked teams under Mark Hudspeth.

    From staff reports

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