News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



AUBURN — The bag of ice wrapped around Rod Smith's hand left a puddle of water on the arm of his chair.

The Tigers' leading receiver, Smith said he sprained his left hand in Auburn's loss at LSU on Oct. 20. He also said X-rays spotted a chipped bone.

"They said I had a little chipped bone in it, but it's fine," Smith said, shrugging off the injury.

Smith will get a chance to rest the hand this week during Auburn's open date. The Tigers practice Saturday. They will return to the athletic building for meetings Sunday in preparation for the Nov. 24 home game against Alabama.

Ross Dellenger,
Daily sports writer


TUSCALOOSA — According to Alabama coach Nick Saban, his counterparts in the Southeastern Conference are pretty sharp. This would explain why Tide receiver DJ Hall's production has dipped the past two games.

Hall grabbed a combined seven catches in his past two games against LSU and Mississippi State for 122 yards. In his previous two games, against Tennessee and Ole Miss, Hall caught 24 passes for 325 yards.

"If somebody hurt you with something, you are going to see it again," Saban said. "That is the way it is, and that is good coaching. That is why you watch the film — you see what gives people problems, and if you can implement it, that is what you do."

  • Saban said the school will apply for medical redshirts for several freshmen who played sparingly in early season games.

    The list includes defensive tackle Alfred McCullough, an Athens High graduate who played in the first game of the season against Western Carolina. Quarterback Nick Fanuzzi, receiver Darius Hanks and offensive lineman William Vlachos also played in the opener but haven't appeared in a game since. Defensive tackle Josh Chapman played in three games, his last against Arkansas in the third week of the season.

    "Some of those guys have been hurt and have not been able to practice on a consistent basis," Saban said. "Because they weren't able to practice, they lost time."

  • Playing a team from a nonpower conference Saturday such as Louisiana-Monroe should give Alabama an opportunity to play some of its reserves.

    Right? Not to Saban.

    Considering the way Alabama's starters have played the past two games, Saban is concerned about forcing them to play with more consistency.

    "I'm worried about winning the game," Saban said. "I'm not worried about who is playing. I would like to see our starters play well in the game. I would like to see them execute and gain confidence in the game. It has nothing to do with how long they play in the game — it is how they play when they play."

    Josh Cooper,
    Daily Sports Writer


    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Prosecutors have dropped forgery and theft charges against Arkansas running back Michael Lee Smith, who was accused of using a stolen credit card.

    A co-defendant provided a sworn affidavit that cleared Smith, Deputy Prosecutor Bill Jones said. "And I have nothing to dispute that and, therefore, am not going to file charges," he said.

    Smith, 20, was arrested Sept. 23 on second-degree forgery and theft-by-receiving charges.

    Razorback coach Houston Nutt suspended Smith from the team for a time but restored him to the roster. Smith is a reserve player behind Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

    In the criminal case, co-defendant Micah Kirschbaum, 18, of Greenland is charged with 12 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and four counts of second-degree forgery. He is accused of stealing the credit card and giving it to Smith, who used it to make purchases.

    Smith's lawyer, Mark Leverett of Little Rock, said Smith "trusted the wrong person." He said he and his client were pleased the charges were dropped.

    "I think the right thing has happened under the right circumstances. I am very appreciative of the work of the prosecutor, who placed justice over convictions, and I think that's very important in the criminal justice system," Leverett said. "When you have a good man coming from a great family having this burden off of his back is a tremendous relief."

    Kirschbaum has a Dec. 18 trial date.


    MEMPHIS — The constant for the Memphis Tigers whether in good times or in bad the past seven years has been this: They always lose to UAB.

    The Blazers have stymied Memphis during bowl years and extended the Tigers' misery in seasons like last year's 2-10 campaign.

    And with Memphis (5-5, 4-2 Conference USA) on the cusp of becoming bowl-eligible for the fourth time in five years, guess who's coming to town Saturday?

    That's right. The Memphis nemesis, UAB. And even in a struggling season, the Blazers (2-8, 1-5) have posed enough of a jinx to draw the Tigers' attention.

    Memphis is coming off a 29-26 victory at Southern Mississippi, marking the third win in its last four outings. All three wins have been close , a total of seven points, thanks to late scores. Memphis coach Tommy West likes the fact that his team is finishing games and overtaking opponents late.

    UAB has lost four straight since beating Tulane 26-21 on Oct. 13. The Blazers have not won on the road this season and have lost seven straight conference games away from home.


    Dennis Dixon will have surgery on the left knee that buckled early in second-ranked Oregon's upset loss to Arizona, costing the Ducks a shot at the national championship and likely spoiling his chance to win the Heisman Trophy.

    The quarterback tore his anterior cruciate ligament during Oregon's Nov. 3 victory over Arizona State, according to coach Mike Bellotti, but he had rested it and felt like he was ready to play Thursday night against the Wildcats.

    Now Dixon will miss the rest of this season.

    The versatile Dixon was one of the front-runners for the Heisman award after he put the Ducks in line for the national title. Oregon had started the season unranked, and was picked to finish sixth in the Pacific-10 Conference.

    West Virginia

    CINCINNATI — West Virginia already has supplied the soundtrack for the biggest game ever played at Nippert Stadium.

    The fifth-ranked Mountaineers cranked up the music at their home field this week, getting ready for a road game that will go a long way in deciding the Big East title.

    Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Kiss and Alien Ant Farm blared from loudspeakers during practice, a song selection almost as incongruous as the game itself.

    Things like this just don't happen in Cincinnati.

    "This is the biggest game they've had in many, many, many, many years," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "So we've got to understand what type of intensity we're going into."

    No. 21 Cincinnati (8-2, 3-2) has never played such a high-profile home game since Nippert Stadium opened in 1902, when it was a modest patch of grass surrounded by wooden bleachers perched on hillsides.

    The 35,000-seat stadium will be full Saturday when the Mountaineers (8-1, 3-1) try to stay on track for their second conference championship in the last three years. For a change, the home fans will outnumber the Mountaineer crowd.

    From staff, wire reports

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

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