College Football Notebook
TUSCALOOSA — After Saturday’s 17-12 loss to Mississippi State, Alabama coach Nick Saban defended his team’s clock management at the end of the first half, but added that the Tide’s execution could have been better.
With Alabama holding a 9-3 lead, Saban used all three of his timeouts at the end of the first half after the Tide got to the Mississippi State 3-yard line with 34 seconds remaining.
He used his first after a 3-yard scramble by quarterback John Parker Wilson to get to the 3-yard line with 34 seconds left. He used another with 27 seconds left after Terry Grant gained a yard. Then he used his third and final timeout with 21 seconds left after Grant was stopped for no gain.
Following that, Alabama faced third-and-goal and attempted a pass, but MSU defensive end Titus Brown hurried Wilson, who threw an interception to Anthony Johnson, who then returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.
If a timeout had remained, Wilson could have taken the sack, while Alabama could have called timeout and still had time left for a short field goal.
“If he gets sacked there, we don’t have any more timeouts. So if we get sacked there, we may not get the field goal off,” Saban said. “But, you know guys, on the play before, if we had blocked it right, we would have scored on it. So I always talk about execution — so we wouldn’t have even been in that situation.”
Following MSU’s victory over Alabama, defensive end Wallace Gilberry stayed on the field a little longer than his Tide teammates. He was waiting for Brown, a friend whom Gilberry said he talks with once a week. Gilberry walked up to Brown when he finished his interviews with reporters and spoke with him.
“Just good game, talk to you later, just small talk,” Gilberry said.
The two are now part of a four-way tie for the Southeastern Conference lead in sacks.
Gilberry and Brown each had one sack Saturday, which puts them with eight on the season — the same number as Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy and Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon.
Daily Sports Writer
AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville said true freshman quarterback Kodi Burns never entered Saturday’s 45-20 loss at Georgia because the speedy play-caller didn’t matchup well against the the Bulldogs’ defense.
“He wasn’t ready for that one, what they were doing on defense and the speed they’ve got,” Tuberville said Sunday. “Kodi’s more of a speed guy, so he wasn’t ready.”
An Arkansas native, Burns has entered every game since making his debut against Mississippi State in the third contest of the season. He started the next game against New Mexico State before his playing time and stats took a free fall.
Junior quarterback Blake Field replaced Burns as the backup to starter Brandon Cox following Field’s impressive performance as a reserve in the win over Tennessee Tech on Nov. 3.
Against Georgia, Auburn fell behind by 18 points late in the third quarter, forcing the Tigers into throwing situations — another reason Burns saw no playing time.
“Brandon’s the best guy we’ve got throwing the football by far,” Tuberville said. “We’re trying to give ourselves the best chance to win.”
Left tackle Ryan Pugh started in place of senior King Dunlap on Saturday. Earlier in the week, Tuberville said Dunlap would start against the Bulldogs for Pugh, who suffered a sprained ankle against Arkansas.
“It was a game-time decision,” Tuberville said. “Ryan played fairly well.”
Tuberville said Pugh’s strength began “giving out on him,” so Dunlap played during the latter portion of the game.
Daily sports writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Not long after Florida rolled over South Carolina on Saturday, coach Urban Meyer was asked if he was now a big Kentucky fan.
After a brief, quizzical look, Meyer realized the No. 14 Gators’ Southeastern Conference title hopes now rest on the Wildcats, who have Georgia and Tennessee left on their schedule — both teams with one less Southeastern Conference loss than Florida, who finished league play at 5-3.
The good news for the Gators is they would win most tiebreakers for the Eastern Division title except if they finish in a tie with No. 8 Georgia, who beat Florida on Oct. 27. Any three- or four-way ties that involve 19th-ranked Tennessee or No. 22 Kentucky would go to Florida, based in part on its 4-1 record in the East.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is still there,” Meyer said.
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says his team is healthy following Saturday’s 34-13 victory over Arkansas and expects the No. 19 Vols to be ready for Vanderbilt next weekend.
“We really game through the game pretty well,” Fulmer said of the win. “I don’t expect anyone to miss any significant practice time or the game.”
However, freshman linebacker LaMarcus Thompson and junior defensive back Ja’Kouri Williams sat out Sunday’s practice for precautionary reasons after having “their bells rung” against Arkansas, Fulmer said.
Tennessee is listed behind No. 8 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division standings, but the Vols will claim the division title if they can defeat Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Steve Spurrier, welcome to South Carolina football, where early success rarely means Southeastern Conference victories later on.
For the second straight year, Spurrier’s Gamecocks flopped when it counted most and sent the ball coach to another losing SEC season.
It was after falling at Florida 17-16 a year ago that Spurrier decided to up his team’s goals to challenge for a conference title. For half this season, Spurrier seemed like a prophet as the Gamecocks rose to No. 6 in the country at 6-1 (3-1 in the league) and were in control of the SEC’s Eastern Division.
But four demoralizing conference losses later had Spurrier wondering what had gone wrong.
“Thinking about winning the SEC about four games ago was a realistic thought,” Spurrier said Sunday. “But obviously it turned out to be very unrealistic.”
The final blow came a night earlier when Tim Tebow and Florida showed Spurrier what it’s like on the bad side of a Gator-style blowout. Tebow accounted for seven touchdowns in Florida’s 51-31 win over its former coach.
HONOLULU — From the mood in the locker room, it was difficult to tell whether Hawaii had won or lost Saturday night. Perhaps it was both.
The Warriors were supposed to be celebrating after holding off rival Fresno State 37-30 to remain undefeated and keep their BCS hopes alive. The win was marred by the loss of quarterback Colt Brennan who suffered a concussion early in the fourth quarter.
Brennan tied the NCAA career mark for touchdown passes, throwing his 121st, before he was knocked out by a jarring hit that reverberated throughout Aloha Stadium.
“We’re definitely happy to win. But around the locker room it was kind of dead knowing that one of our leaders, our brothers, went down,” said Ryan Grice-Mullen, who broke the 1,000-yard receiving mark with his nine catches for 128 yards.
Hawaii (9-0, 6-0 Western Athletic Conference), which moved up a spot to No. 13 on Sunday, and No. 4 Kansas are the only remaining unbeaten teams. The Warriors are off to their best start since 1925. They have won 10 straight, and 19 of their last 20 games.
Brennan was 28-of-39 for 396 yards and two touchdowns before he left with 11 minutes left in the game. He was flattened by linebacker Marcus Riley near the Bulldogs’ sideline while scrambling on third-and-seven.
School officials believe Brennan suffered a mild concussion.
SEATTLE — Washington quarterback Jake Locker won’t be rushed back into action after suffering stinger and muscle strain in his neck, coach Tyrone Willingham said Sunday night.
Locker was injured in a helmet-to-helmet collision in the second quarter of the Huskies’ 29-23 loss to Oregon State on Saturday night. He was taken off the field on a stretcher, but additional tests conducted Sunday confirmed the injury is a stinger. Locker began therapy Sunday.
“We are truly happy that the tests that were conducted on Jake indicated nothing more serious that a stinger and muscle strain,” Willingham said. “We will not rush Jake’s return to the field. The extent to which Jake will be out of action will be in large part determined by his ability to recover from the injury.”
Locker, the dynamic redshirt freshman from Ferndale, Wash., was scrambling on a third-down play when he was hit by Oregon State safety Al Afalava in the second quarter.
Locker stayed down for about 15 minutes and did not appear to move while emergency workers attended to him. He was then put on a stretcher with his head immobilized and taken by ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis.
Locker returned to the sideline with 3:18 left in the game, walking slowly and wearing a neck brace as the crowd cheered. Afalava briefly talked to and then hugged Locker on the field immediately after the game.
Washington (3-7, 1-5 Pac-10) has three games remaining, including Saturday’s home game against California.
The Associated Press
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