College Football Notebook
Southern Mississippi beats Marshall
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Damion Fletcher rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns to lead Southern Mississippi to a 33-24 win over Marshall on Sunday night.
Southern Mississippi (4-3, 3-1 Conference USA) jumped ahead 20-0 and withstood a second-half rally by Marshall to move into a tie for first place with East Carolina in the East Division.
Marshall (0-7, 0-3) once was virtually unbeatable at home but lost its third game in a season at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the second time in three years. The Thundering Herd are on pace for their worst season since going 1-10 in 1979. Marshall hasn’t had a winless season since 1968.
The Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA — For Alabama coach Nick Saban, it seemed like no major move backfired in Saturday’s 41-17 win over Tennessee. And that started with the first play of the game.
When backup Jamie Christensen lined up to kick off, Tennessee didn’t change its formation, expecting a regular kick. Instead, Christensen bounced the ball for the onside kick, and Alabama’s Demarcus Waldrop recovered.
“I’d rather do it in the beginning of the game than later,” Saban said. “Either you do it or you don’t do it, and if you don’t make it, then you start on the 40-yard line. They could return it to the 40-yard line, too, so it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it.”
Alabama scored only a field goal on the ensuing drive, but the play showed the Tide that its coach had confidence in the players.
“That’s big,” Waldrop said. “It got our offense motivated. They played good all day, John Parker did, DJ, the offensive line. It helped them out tremendously to start out the game.”
After place-kicker Leigh Tiffin botched a squib kick at the end of the first half, Saban yelled at him on the sidelines. Then when Tennessee scored a field goal to make it a 24-17 game, Saban let his kicker have it again.
Tiffin responded, though, booting a career-high four field goals and setting a new long with a 44-yarder.
“The next time we kicked off, I actually looked and asked him, ‘Are you OK’ ” Saban said. “He got a big smile on his face and said, ‘Yeah, I’m all right.’ ”
Daily Sports Writer
AUBURN — Receiver Robert Dunn, who was suspended for Saturday’s loss to LSU for violating an Auburn practice policy, is still on the team and practiced Sunday, coach Tommy Tuberville said.
“He’s not off the team,” the coach said. “I just haven’t decided when he’s going to play again.”
Receivers coach Greg Knox said Dunn was “good” at practice Sunday, but he’s unsure if the receiver will play Saturday against Ole Miss.
“It’s all about how he works in practice,” Knox said.
When asked if rumors were true that he and Dunn got into a verbal spat at practice, Knox said, “It was a violation of team rules. We’ll just go from there.”
A junior from Augusta, Ga., Dunn has caught 10 passes for 116 yards in seven games this season, including maybe the biggest reception of his career just a week ago. Dunn’s 30-yard reception from quarterback Brandon Cox in the closing seconds of Auburn’s game at Arkansas put the Tigers in position for Wes Byrum’s game-winning 20-yard field goal.
Against LSU, redshirt freshman Tim Hawthorne started in place of Dunn but did not have a catch.
True freshman receiver Chris Slaughter replaced Dunn as Auburn’s punt returner, but Slaughter never got the chance to field a punt.
Auburn escaped from Baton Rouge, La., without any serious injury, Tuberville said Sunday.
“Just some guys beat up,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything that’s going to hold anybody out.”
Tuberville said cornerback Pat Lee jammed his neck while making a tackle, but Lee returned to the game later.
Left tackle Ryan Pugh was held out of the game and replaced by senior King Dunlap. Pugh practiced little with the team this week and was doubtful to play. He suffered a high ankle sprain the previous week against Arkansas. When asked if Pugh would return this week, Tuberville said, “It’s gotten a lot better.”
Tuberville also noted that kicker Wes Byrum has a “bad thigh and groin” — one reason the true freshman was not kicking off deep.
Auburn used squib kickoffs throughout the game, including one following its go-ahead touchdown. The kick traveled just 30 yards, giving LSU good field position to start what turned into a game-winning
“He hasn’t kicked off deep all year since his ankle — that and we weren’t going to kick it to their deep guy,” Tuberville said, discussing the final kick.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said his squad had a season-high 12 missed tackles against LSU on Saturday.
“A lot of that had to do with LSU,” said Muschamp, who spent four years as LSU’s defensive coordinator under former coach Nick Saban. “They’ve got some good athletes and they’ve got good perimeter players, and they have a lot of them.”
Several Auburn players said Sunday LSU was the best team they have faced.
Tuberville agreed, citing speed as an obvious factor in Auburn’s poor tackling.
“They’ve got a hell of a football team,” Tuberville said. “That’s the best team we’ve played. They were able to get the ball out on the corners. Our defensive backs didn’t tackle near as well as they did in the last few games. But good players make you miss, and they sure did that.”
Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves said he played in 21 snaps Saturday night and recorded 17 production points.
It was Groves’ first playing time since he dislocated three toes against Florida on Sept. 29. He missed Auburn’s wins over Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
“I’ve never missed a game before, aside from those two games, my whole career here,” he said, “so it just felt great. You never want to be on the sideline.”
Groves said he’s about 90 percent healthy.
Daily sports writer
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Vanderbilt sophomore cornerback D.J. Moore was named defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation on Sunday after helping the Commodores defeat then-No. 6 South Carolina 17-6 in Columbia, S.C.
Moore, a graduate of Broome High in Spartanburg, S.C., paced Vanderbilt with a pair of interceptions and eight tackles. Moore also averaged 34 yards on three kickoff returns.
“D.J. played a remarkable game against South Carolina and was very important to an outstanding effort by our entire defensive unit. He’s just a special player, a guy that has a knack for making plays and being around the football,” Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Urban Meyer has talked all season about trying to limit the number of carries for quarterback Tim Tebow.
Now, he might really have to do it.
Tebow has a bruised right shoulder, an injury sustained in the second half of Florida’s 45-37 win at Kentucky on Saturday. Tebow, a left-hander, played through the pain and sealed the victory with 2-yard touchdown run that followed a 40-yard pass to Percy Harvin.
Meyer said Tebow won’t have any contact in practice this week as the ninth-ranked Gators (5-2, 3-2 SEC) prepare for No. 20 Georgia.
“We have to be careful,” Meyer said Sunday. “We’ve got to continue to coach him up to manage the game. He’s had so much success (running). He’s the kind of person that takes it. That’s a concern.”
The Associated Press
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