News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



AUBURN — Every time Auburn safety Zac Etheridge hits someone in practice, the stinging vibrations shoot through his shoulder.

But don't think for a second that will keep him out of this game.

"You have to go through it and just play through the pain," said Etheridge, who also is suffering from a bruised hip.

Black and blue, Etheridge missed the Tigers' 35-3 homecoming win over Tennessee Tech for precautionary reasons. He expects to play against Georgia on Saturday.

A redshirt freshman, Etheridge is fourth on the team with 46 tackles and second with four pass breakups. Except for his rest last week, he has started every game this season, despite all of those injuries.

"Sometimes it kind of bothers me in the game," he said. "It's getting better. It's getting stronger. I'm trying to help the team and play through it."

Etheridge injured his shoulder against New Mexico State about six weeks ago. He hurt his hip against LSU four weeks later.

A Troy native, Etheridge said his motivation to play through the injuries comes from those players behind him in the depth chart

"I know we have a lot of guys who can go out there and get the job," Etheridge said. "The guys behind me keep pushing me to get better every day."

? Offensive coordinator Al Borges doesn't expect to hit many big plays against Georgia's defense. Borges said it will be difficult for quarterback Brandon Cox to read the Bulldogs' crafty secondary.

"They do a good job of disguising their two-deep and their three-deep and their man coverages," he said. "You can get a play here and a play there, but in terms of big plays, it's not easy to do it."

Georgia is fourth in the SEC in total defense, giving up 340 yards a game. Although its pass defense ranks eighth in the SEC, UGA is 39th in the nation defending through the air.

Ross Dellenger,
Daily sports writer


TUSCALOOSA — As a teacher and student of football, Alabama coach Nick Saban can give some deeper insight into the game — how it is played and how it should be played.

Earlier in the week when asked about Mississippi State's West Coast offense, Saban delved into that particular strategy and its evolution throughout time, from its inception under former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh to its current form.

"When Bill Walsh did it, the I-formation wasn't a part of the equation," Saban said. "When (former 49ers Coach Steve) Mariucci took over, that became a part of the equation. So there was part of a running game that was implemented into it."

With the Bulldogs using power running back Anthony Dixon alongside their quick passing routes, they are closer to the Mariucci version of the West Coast offense.

"They're doing a combination of both," Saban said. "They've been effective because they're doing a very good job of running the football."

? So Alabama linebacker Ezekial Knight has two interceptions this season — and the most surprised person is probably himself. His most recent interception came Saturday against LSU quarterback Matt Flynn.

"I just came out and played and I just happened to be in the right spot," Knight said.

A junior, Knight started his Alabama career as a wide receiver. He then was moved to defensive end, before shifting to outside linebacker as part of Saban's 3-4 defensive system.

In his new role, Knight drops back into pass coverage, giving him a chance to pick off a bad throw. His first interception of the season came at Ole Miss, which set up Alabama's game-winning field goal.

He said he didn't expect any interceptions at defensive end.

"But they've got me playing linebacker," Knight said. "So it was a slim chance I would actually get an interception."

Josh Cooper,
Daily Sports Writer

Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio — There's a countdown clock to the Michigan game inside top-ranked Ohio State's practice facility. As the Buckeyes walk around campus, friends, family and fellow students mention the annual regular-season finale with the Wolverines. Even the Buckeyes keep an eye on their rivals.

"We go in after our game and we want to see what everyone else has done," linebacker Austin Spitler said. "Obviously, Michigan is one of the first teams we look at, what they did that day. They're always in the back of our heads."

As much as everybody in scarlet and gray wants the showdown they call "The Game" to get here, first the Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) have a tough test with Illinois (7-3, 4-2) on Saturday.

North Alabama

FLORENCE — North Alabama quarterback A.J. Milwee is listed as one of 24 candidates for the 2007 Harlon Hill Trophy.

Milwee leads the Gulf South Conference in passing efficiency and has tossed 17 touchdown passes against only five interceptions. He has helped the Lions to an 8-1 record and No. 10 national ranking.

The winner will be announced Dec. 14. Among the players vying for the award is the 2006 winner — senior running back Danny Woodhead of Chadron State College.

From Staff, Wire Reports

Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!

Leave feedback
on this or

Email This Page