College Football Notebook
AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville will try again this week to rest place-kicker Wes Byrum, who suffered a thigh bruise about three weeks ago.
Tuberville planned to rest the true freshman against Ole Miss, but after backup Zach Kutch badly missed a 42-yard field goal, Tuberville sent Byrum into the game.
Byrum, who did not kick in practice all week, made a 36-yard field late in the third quarter to give Auburn a 10-3 lead.
“We asked him if he could kick one,” Tuberville said. “He said, ‘I’m fine.’ He kicked the best one he kicked all year.”
The Tigers eventually won 17-3, and Byrum kicked the second extra point.
Tuberville said Byrum’s bruised leg is a common thread among freshman kickers. The coach said former kicker John Vaughn and former punter Kody Bliss suffered the same affliction.
Tuberville said Sunday that quarterback Brandon Cox “is fine.” Cox exited the game late in the second quarter with a bruised non-throwing shoulder.
“We thought it could be separated,” Tuberville said, “but we’ve done all the tests on it, and he’ll be fine.”
Linebacker Craig Stevens, who twisted his ankle against Ole Miss, should return to practice this week, Tuberville said.
The coach said if Stevens is not fully healthy by Wednesday then “we’ll probably hold him back.” Merrill Johnson will replace Stevens in the starting rotation, according to defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and Tuberville.
Tuberville said safety Aairon Savage will play this week. Savage practiced all last week but never played against Ole Miss. He suffered an injury against Florida and hasn’t played since.
“You’ll see him this week,” the coach said.
Suspended receiver Robert Dunn will play this week, Tuberville said Sunday.
Dunn’s suspension began two games ago when he did not make the trip to Baton Rouge, La., for the game with LSU. He was suspended for violating practice policy that week. Dunn has 10 catches for 116 yards in seven games this season.
Tim Hawthorne has replaced Dunn in the starting lineup, but Hawthorne has no catches in two games. Tuberville did not specify if Dunn would start but said he “will play this week.”
Defensive tackle Josh Thompson called Ole Miss players “dirty” following Auburn’s win Saturday.
A senior from Statesboro, Ga., Thompson described the game as a “fist fight in the trenches.”
“They were dirty, needless to say — a little bit more dirty than they were supposed to be,” Thompson said.
He said Ole Miss players illegally held and blocked Auburn players in the back early in the game.
“The first four plays there was a guy that hit us in the back twice,” Thompson said. “They were playing kind of nasty.”
Daily sports writer
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee cornerback Marsalous Johnson and offensive tackle Eric Young likely will miss the rest of the season because of knee injuries, coach Phillip Fulmer said Sunday.
Johnson did not play in the 24th-ranked Vols 27-24 overtime win over No. 23 South Carolina on Saturday after suffering what team officials believed to be a torn meniscus in his knee during the week leading up to the game.
“(Doctors) won’t know for sure until they get in there, but it’s probably season ending,” he said.
Johnson would be the second starting Vols cornerback lost to knee injury this season. Antonio Gaines suffered a torn ligament in week two against Mississippi State.
As for Young, Fulmer said he had surgery Sunday morning after being forced from Saturday’s game.
“He had surgery ... and it went well,” the coach said. “He’ll be out for the remainder of the season.”
JONESBORO, Ark. — Troy knocked Arkansas State out of the Sun Belt Conference title race — and took care of some unfinished business from years past.
“It feels good to win here,” Troy coach Larry Blakeney said. “We had our night tonight. We played a good game in all three phases, and it was a great win for us and our program.”
The Trojans had lost to Arkansas State each of the last three seasons, but Troy dominated Saturday night’s matchup 27-0. Omar Haugabook threw for 156 yards and ran for 94.
Troy (6-2, 5-0) is on track to represent the Sun Belt in the New Orleans Bowl for the second straight year. The Trojans play at No. 10 Georgia on Saturday.
“We are playing good right now but we can still improve,” Haugabook said. “It’s scary to think that we can get better. We have won a lot of games but we can still get better.”
Trinity’s 15 laterals
Picture the ending of the Stanford-California game in 1982, without the band and with three times as many laterals.
Trinity University used 15 laterals after a completed pass on the final play of the game for an unlikely touchdown and 28-24 victory Saturday at stunned Millsaps, which is coached by former Alabama head coach Mike DuBose. Call it the “Mississippi Miracle” for the Tigers, an NCAA Division III team in San Antonio.
“Things have to go perfectly for that to work,” coach Steve Mohr told The Associated Press after the Tigers got home Sunday night from Jackson, Miss. “We couldn’t do that against air if we tried.”
There were two seconds left, only enough time to snap the ball once, when Trinity (7-1) took over at its own 40.
“The worst part about it is we had five or six guys just quit on the play,” DuBose told The Clarion-Ledger. “That type of thing just shouldn’t happen. Sure, we were tired. But so was Trinity. You have to finish the play. We stopped.”
Blake Barmore dumped a short pass over the middle to a wide-open Shawn Thompson, who gained 16 yards before he ran into a defender and made the first pitch to Riley Curry. Then there was another lateral, and another and another.
Curry got the ball four times, the last after it was bounced off the turf into his hands around the 34 and he sprinted to the end zone. He crossed the goal line 62 seconds after the ball was snapped.
That bounce was the only time the ball touched the ground, and Mohr thinks that actually helped the Tigers.
“Some of the Millsaps players stopped. That created the seam for Curry,” said Mohr, figuring some of the exhausted defenders might have thought it was like an incomplete pass to kill the play.
“It was never batted, never touched the ground except the last throw, 14 straight completions.”
California needed only five laterals on its game-ending kickoff return for a touchdown in 1982, when Stanford’s band had stormed the field thinking the game was over.
DALLAS — SMU coach Phil Bennett was fired Sunday, a day after the Mustangs lost 29-23 at Tulsa and were eliminated from bowl contention.
Bennett, who is 18-48 in six seasons, will finish out the season, athletic director Steve Orsini said.
“I appreciate Phil’s efforts here at SMU, but I felt it was time for a change,” Orsini said in a statement.
The Mustangs are 1-7 with four games remaining. They play at Houston on Sunday.
Bennett was reportedly close to losing his job after the 2005 season, but won the last three to finish 5-6. He signed an extension in January 2006 that put him under contract through the 2009 season.
But that was before Orsini came aboard as athletic director.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — One day after Arkansas routed Florida International, coach Houston Nutt addressed the Razorbacks’ most immediate concern — the health of quarterback Casey Dick.
“Casey, I think he’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” Nutt said Sunday. “He’s just a little sore (with) a little bruise. I think he’ll be fine.”
Dick was hurt in the first half of Arkansas’ 58-10 win Saturday, but the Razorbacks didn’t need him. Darren McFadden rushed for 61 yards and four short touchdowns, and the Golden Panthers turned the ball over seven times.
Dick left in the second quarter with a slight concussion and sore ribs after being hit while in the backfield. Nathan Emert replaced him and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Monk late in the half. Emert went 13-of-25 for 154 yards.
“I didn’t do a whole lot,” Emert said after the game. “Hand the ball to great running backs.”
The Associated Press
Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
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