AP photo by Jonathan Grunke|
Western Michigan's Jordan White, center, is brought down by Central Michigan defenders Red Keith, left, and Chaz West during the first quarter in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Tuesday. Central Michigan won 34-31.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
AUBURN — Having moved from defensive end to linebacker, Quentin Groves is enjoying and succeeding in his new role.
Groves officially moved to linebacker Oct. 29, five days before Auburn’s homecoming win over Tennessee Tech. Groves said he played 12 plays — two at defensive end and the rest at linebacker — against Tech and registered four production points.
“That’s pretty good,” Groves said, smiling. “Every three plays, I’m making a point.”
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp called Groves an “instinctive guy who is able to catch on” quickly. Groves has played some linebacker throughout the year but primarily has held his spot at defensive end.
With the emergence of sophomore defensive end Antonio Coleman and the lack of depth at linebacker, the move was easy for coaches to make. Head coach Tommy Tuberville said Groves’ duties will get more complicated this week against No. 10 Georgia.
“Most of the time he is focused on rushing the passer. This week, he will rush the passer, drop back and play zone and man coverage,” Tuberville said. “He will be involved in the blitz packages, also.”
Left tackle Ryan Pugh (ankle) practiced Tuesday and is expected to play against Georgia. It is unclear if Pugh will start, though.
Senior King Dunlap has started in place of the injured true freshman. Pugh was held out of Auburn’s win over Tennessee Tech after the injury flared up a week earlier.
Place-kicker Wes Byrum practiced Tuesday and is “back kicking well.” Byrum did not kick off during Auburn’s last two games because of a thigh bruise, but he continued to kick field goals and extra points. Byrum is expected to return as the kickoff specialist.
Linebacker Craig Stevens (ankle) did not practice Tuesday. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said Groves, Chris Evans and Tray Blackmon will start at linebacker against Georgia.
Tuberville said running back/kick returner Tristan Davis is “getting pretty close” to returning full speed.
The coach said Davis, who ranked 15th in the nation in kick returns last season, is not ready to play Saturday. Tuberville said the junior could play against Alabama on Nov. 24.
Davis’ season has been plagued by injury. He missed the first four games of the season with a broken toe he suffered in the preseason. Upon his return, Davis broke his foot against Florida.
Daily sports writer
TUSCALOOSA — Alabama’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday will be Terry Grant’s second against a team from his home state.
Against Ole Miss, Grant, a redshirt freshman, had 16 rushes for 62 yards.
He said the Bulldogs recruited him out of Lumberton High.
“They recruited me pretty hard. They got on me pretty early, my ninth-grade year. I think they were probably my first offer,” Grant said. “I just didn’t have a good feel for it. I wanted to be somewhere where I was comfortable. I never did visit there, either. That’s probably one good reason why.”
Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson is a freshman, but that’s only a title, according to Tide coach Nick Saban.
Against LSU, Jackson had an interception and a blocked field goal. He has three interceptions on the year, good for second on the Crimson Tide.
“Hopefully, he’ll get more and more consistent in his technique, and that will help him play even better in the future,” Saban said. “When he makes mistakes, they’re correctable mistakes. He doesn’t make a lot of mental errors; it’s more in technique — confidence and technique. Taking all the information, putting it together so you can put yourself in the best position all the time.”
Alabama received two big public commitments Tuesday. Barrett Jones, an offensive line prospect from Evangelical Christian in Memphis, said he will sign his letter of intent with Alabama for the Tide’s 2008 recruiting haul. Alabama also received a public commitment for 2009 from Biloxi (Miss.) High defensive tackle D.J. Fluker.
“I am convinced that I can receive a quality education and be part of an outstanding football program at Alabama,” Jones told Rivals.com. “I really like the players and coaches that I have met. I have gotten to know some of the recruits and I feel very comfortable with them.”
The 6-foot-5, 271-pound Jones is listed as a four-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. According to Rivals.com, Jones visited Florida and North Carolina before settling on Alabama. He is Alabama’s 21st public commitment for 2008. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound Fluker is rated as a four-star prospect, according to Scout.com. Rivals has not rated him.
Alabama has announced the kickoff time for its home game against Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 17.
According to a release from the school, the game will kick off at 1:30 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium and will not be televised.
Daily Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee center Josh McNeil lashed out at the media Tuesday for reporting what he said was a misunderstanding between him and Knoxville police after they responded to a call about a potential burglary at his apartment.
McNeil said he was particularly upset with media reports of police finding three intoxicated women in his bed when they came to investigate the burglary report Sunday morning.
He said the women — one is his girlfriend and the others were friends of hers visiting from out of town — were actually sleeping on the floor.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier knew when his Gamecocks were ranked No. 6 they were probably overrated.
“When we were 6-1, you guys heard me talking, I wasn’t sitting on the table here telling you how great we were,” Spurrier said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “It sort of just all caught up to us against some good teams.”
Things don’t get any easier Saturday night when South Carolina (6-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) hosts No. 17 Florida (6-3, 4-3). Spurrier will look to avoid the second four-game losing streak of his more than 16 years as a college coach.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky running back Rafael Little will return to the lineup on Saturday against Vanderbilt after missing three games with a thigh injury.
Little practiced on Tuesday and coach Rich Brooks said the senior looked healthy.
“It’s always nice to get playmakers back,” Brooks said. “Everybody knows how many plays Keenan Burton and Rafael have made on our offense. Having those two guys back in the lineup will be a big boost for us.”
Burton will also return to action Saturday after missing Kentucky’s loss to Mississippi St. on Oct. 27 due to injury. Little said he’s excited to return to the lineup.
“It’s hard sitting out watching,” he said. “We lost the last two games, and I thought I could have done something to help us out.”
Little also made a return from injury in the Vanderbilt game last season. He had missed four games due to a knee injury but came back against the Commodores and logged 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown. He also caught eight passes for 114 yards in the game.
“Last year when he came back he ended up getting a lot more than we had in mind for him,” Brooks said. “(Saturday) we’re just going to do what we have to do hopefully to move the ball and score points.”
LINCOLN, Neb. — If Nebraska interim athletic director Tom Osborne wants Bill Callahan out as football coach, he’ll probably have to fire him.
Callahan said Tuesday he would not resign before the season ends, even if he were offered a buyout worth more than he is entitled to by his contract.
BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football team conducted a physical, 19-period practice Tuesday afternoon as it continued to work towards its final home game of the season against UCF on Saturday at Legion Field. UAB head coach Neil Callaway told reporters following practice that he was proud of his team’s effort Tuesday.
“It was a good day today. We practiced with a lot of enthusiasm and practiced hard. I tip my hat to the guys — they’re working hard. We have to keep working hard and getting better,” he said.
The Gulf South Conference named North Alabama defensive end Tim Hunt of Mobile as its defensive player of the week for his efforts in the Lions’ 65-17 win over West Georgia.
It is the first player of the week honor for Hunt, a 6-foot-5, 247-pound senior. He spearheaded the Lions’ defense in a homecoming triumph with six tackles, including four solo stops. He forced one fumble and broke up a pass. In addition, he made three of UNA’s five sacks.
UNA is No. 10 in the latest American Football Coaches Association Division II poll.
The Lions (8-1) were ranked 11th last week and now have been ranked no lower than 11th in the last 27 straight D-II polls. UNA will face its oldest rival, West Alabama, on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Braly Stadium in Florence. This will be the 60th meeting between the two schools.
From Staff, Wire Reports
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