News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Auburn quarterback Neil Caudle.
AP photo by Dave Martin
Auburn quarterback Neil Caudle.



TUSCALOOSA — Replay officials reviewed six plays in Alabama’s 41-34 loss to LSU on Saturday, and four were overturned, including three that went in LSU’s favor.

The three included an interception by Tide defensive back Javier Arenas, a fumble recovery by linebacker Darren Mustin and a long reception by Matt Caddell in the fourth quarter with Alabama winning 34-27.

That would’ve put the Tide in LSU territory had the original ruling stood. The replay officials ruled Caddell trapped the ball on the ground as he dove to make the catch.

“I thought he caught the ball on the field,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday during his weekly news conference. “He did double-catch the ball. The question is whether he had possession of it when he hit the ground. Whenever he hit the ground, he lost possession of it, but I can’t sit here and say emphatically that ... I mean, they had the same tapes to look at as I did relative to the TV copies, and we’re not standing up complaining about what was called.”

  • Saban announced the Tide’s players of the week Monday. Center Evan Cardwell and wide receiver Keith Brown picked up offensive honors. Brown had two touchdown catches.

    Safety Rashad Johnson (one interception) and defensive end Wallace Gilberry (three sacks) took defensive honors, and Arenas (61-yard punt return for touchdown) and Forress Rayford were special teams players of the week.

  • Saban said nothing has been completed in Alabama’s investigation into athletes’ textbooks.

    Five Tide players have been suspended while the inquiry continues, including running back Glen Coffee, offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell, right guard Marlon Davis, cornerback Marquis Johnson and special teams player Chris Rogers. All five have missed the last two games.

    “(The investigation) is not final in terms of what the circumstances are going to be and I’d rather not comment on it until that occurs,” Saban said.

  • Left tackle Andre Smith hurt his ankle against LSU and wore a black non-contact jersey at practice Monday. Saban said center Evan Cardwell had a “back-spasm deal” but both should be able to play Saturday against Mississippi State.

    Josh Cooper,
    Daily Sports Writer


    AUBURN — Although quarterback Brandon Cox played just 16 minutes against Tennessee Tech on Saturday, offensive coordinator Al Borges gave the senior a grade of 98 percent.

    “He threw one pass low and outside on a corner route that he missed. But you take that one away, and he was letter-perfect,” said Borges, who noted that Cox played about 25 snaps.

    In that minimal playing time, Cox led Auburn to three touchdowns in three series. He completed 9 of 11 passes for 167 yards and threw a touchdown before taking a seat on the bench for the rest of the game.

    “It was nice sitting back and watching three quarters of football,” Cox said.

    The Birmingham native is fully healthy and rested for the season’s final two games against No. 10 Georgia and No. 21 Alabama.

    Cox got to watch all three of Auburn’s quarterbacks play Saturday, including Blake Field, Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle. Field was promoted to the No. 2 quarter after his impressive outing, while Burns was moved down to third string.

    Cox said Field “seized the moment.” He added that Field has a “little bit” of a stronger arm and is faster.

    Burns failed to complete one of his four attempts, missing open receivers. Cox attributed Burns’ poor showing to youth.

    “He’s a freshman,” Cox said. “He was making freshman mistakes.”

  • Offensive line coach Hugh Nall was “disappointed” in his backup linemen during the win over Tennessee Tech.

    Nall substituted for most, if not all, of his starters during the second quarter, allowing the backups to play for the rest of the game.

    “I wasn’t happy with those guys at all,” Nall said. “That was a chance for them to really show me something. I didn’t think they executed or got after it at all as good as they should have.”

    Nall, a rugged country coach from Georgia, said he “let them know” he was angry with them during Sunday’s practice. That can’t be good.

  • Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said when watching videotape of Auburn’s win over Tennessee Tech, he cut off cornerback Walter McFadden’s end zone dance.

    McFadden, who backs up Decatur High grad Jerraud Powers, returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Saturday. When he reached the end zone, McFadden did a dance, which cost him disciplinary runs and harsh words from Muschamp.

    “He’s not going to do it again,” Muschamp said.

  • Auburn has picked up another star from Tallahassee’s Lincoln High.

    Defensive back/linebacker Deshaun Barnes told on Monday he will enroll at Auburn in January. A 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, Barnes failed to qualify academically this fall after committing to Tennessee in February 2006.

    Barnes, who was ranked the No. 25 safety prospect in the country, told the Web site he has been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. He joins two other former Lincoln High standouts: Auburn linebacker Craig Stevens and defensive back Mike Slade.

    Ross Dellenger,
    Daily sports writer


    NASHVILLE — Bobby Johnson is taking some of the blame for his Vanderbilt Commodores’ dismal defensive effort at Florida.

    The Commodores entered the game ranked 14th nationally in total defense but were pounded for 498 yards of total offense in a 49-22 loss last weekend to the Gators. It was the highest point total Vanderbilt has allowed in two years.

    “You have to be ready every week and you have to react,” Johnson said Monday during his weekly news conference.

    “We didn’t react very well to what Florida did. I take responsibility for that. We should have had our players in better positions several times just to make ordinary plays, nothing spectacular.”

    The Gators raced to a 35-7 halftime lead.


    ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Naval Academy canceled classes Monday, giving the 4,400 midshipmen another day to celebrate the football team’s first victory over Notre Dame in 44 tries.

    Navy beat Notre Dame 46-44 in triple overtime Saturday when Reggie Campbell caught a 25-yard touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion throw from Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. The Fighting Irish scored on their next drive after Travis Thomas ran 5 yards for a touchdown, but two Navy players tackled him on the 2-point conversion attempt.

    “We are all part of history because of this victory,” Vice Admiral Jeffrey Fowler, the academy’s superintendent, said in an e-mail to The (Annapolis) Capital.

    Notre Dame’s winning streak over Navy began in 1964, the year after Roger Staubach helped the Mids defeat Notre Dame 35-14 on Nov. 2, 1963.

    Southeastern Conference

    BIRMINGHAM — Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden, whose 321 rushing yards against South Carolina tied the Southeastern Conference record, was named league offensive player of the week for his performance on Monday.

    LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey won defensive player of the week while Alabama return man Javier Arenas claimed special teams honors.

    McFadden had 34 carries in a 48-36 win over No. 23 South Carolina, rushing for a touchdown and passing for another.

    The 321 yards are the most ever by an individual in an SEC game and the second-highest rushing output this season by an NCAA player.

    The offensive lineman of the week was Arkansas guard Mitch Petrus, and Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham won defensive line honors.

    Georgia tailback Knowshon Moreno was the freshman of the week after rushing for a career-high 196 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-34 win over Troy.

    North Alabama

    On the strength of a 65-17 pounding of West Georgia on Saturday, the North Alabama football team has moved up one spot to second in the latest NCAA Division II Southeast Region rankings.

    The Lions (8-1), who are heading into this weekend’s regular-season finale at home against West Alabama, were ranked third behind Delta State and Valdosta State entering last Saturday’s games. Valdosta State (8-1) moved up to the top spot and UNA went to second, while Delta State (8-1) dropped from first to third after a 20-9 win over West Alabama.

    The top six teams in the final regional rankings Nov. 10 will advance to the NCAA Division II playoffs, and the top two teams will receive first-round byes.

    Jacksonville State

    Jacksonville State will host Eastern Illinois on Saturday at noon, and this one has turned into one of the premier matchups in the Ohio Valley Conference.

    The winner has taken the OVC championship in each of the past four years — JSU in 2003 and ’04 and Eastern Illinois in 2005 and ’06.

    This year, both teams are 6-3, including 5-1 in the OVC. Eastern Kentucky (7-2, 6-0) leads the league standings, but JSU head coach Jack Crowe said it’s still a meaningful game.

    “To a Jacksonville State fan, Eastern Illinois doesn’t have the sound of a rivalry because of proximity, from the competitive standpoint, you couldn’t have a greater rival in a more defining game against a comparable opponent this late in the season,” Crowe said.


    The UAB Blazers are coming off their third straight loss and have scored only 23 points in those three defeats. UAB fell 37-7 to Southern Mississippi on Saturday.

    “Offensively, I’m concerned,” said head coach Neil Callaway, whose Blazers (2-7) face Central Florida (6-3) on Saturday. “We had a situation where we weren’t able to do much of anything right. I think it stems from the problems we are having up front offensively; having people banged up and the youth. We are not functioning well enough up front to let the other people function.”

    From staff, wire reports

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

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