SEC Football Update

The Alabama football team practiced for two hours Thursday afternoon in preparation for Saturday's non-conference game with UTEP at Birmingham's Legion Field. The Crimson Tide spent an hour on special teams work, followed by an hour of offensive and defensive drills.

"It was pretty good today," Alabama head coach Dennis Franchione said. "I wanted to be a little better. We could have been sharper in a few areas. It was not the worst Thursday we have had, but after the really good Tuesday and Wednesday, I wanted it to be a little better." Franchione confirmed on Thursday that redshirt sophomore Charles Jones would make his first career start this Saturday and play the free safety position. Jones, who had never played a snap for Alabama prior to this year, has appeared in all four game so far. He will be the 31st different Crimson Tide player to start a game this season.
 
The Birmingham Police Department will handle all security at Legion Field this weekend. The same security measures will be taken on Saturday that were taken for the Alabama-Arkansas game on Sept. 22 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In addition, no cars will be permitted within a 200-foot radius of Legion Field. Birmingham Police Department officials will not allow any electronic instruments (i.e. radio, headphones or TVs), oversize bags or purses, cameras and cases, coolers and backpacks. All persons and their possession are subject to be searched. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to the game. This will be Alabama's first game at Legion Field this season. The Southern Miss game scheduled for Sept. 15 was postponed due to the tragic events of Sept. 11.
 
That game has been rescheduled for Thursday, Nov. 29 at Legion Field. Alabama will practice Friday in Tuscaloosa and bus to Birmingham. The team will stop at Legion Field for a brief walk through on Friday before moving on to its team hotel. The Alabama-UTEP Game will be available on a pay-per-view basis. For more information or to order the game, please call your local cable outlet. In addition, the game will also be available to satellite dish owners. For large dish owners, please call 1-800-TV-STARS. The game is also available through the Dish Network on the Dish 500 system, channel 456.
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Tigers Focus on Special Teams, Short Yardage Situations
AUBURN, Ala. -- The Auburn football team spent two hours on the practice fields Thursday wrapping up its final preparations for Mississippi State. The Tigers used the workout to focus on special teams and short yardage situations. "It's been a good week of practice," Head Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I thought it was one of our better weeks of practice so far this season. We spent a lot of time on the kicking game and short yardage situations. I think that could be the difference in the game Saturday." "We are ready to play," Tuberville said.
 
"We need to get our legs back so we will use tomorrow to rest, watch more film and get focused on Saturday night's game." Auburn leads the all-time series with Mississippi State 50-22-2. The Bulldogs won last year's meeting,17-10, in Starkville. Kickoff for Saturday's game between the Tigers and Bulldogs is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPN2. Saturday's game will be Auburn's first game at Jordan-Hare Stadium since September 8.
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Georgia Practices in Noisy Conditions
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Georgia Bulldogs (2-1, 1-1 SEC) practiced for just under two hours Thursday at Sanford Stadium, working out in helmets, jerseys and shorts along with simulated crowd noise in final preparations for Saturday's game at No. 6 Tennessee (3-0, 2-0 SEC). "It was a good practice, considering we did it with the speakers blaring," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Over the years, I've tended to have good practices with noise blaring because they really have to concentrate."
 
Richt also commented on facing a highly-ranked team. "If any team wants to move from one level to the next, you've got to beat teams that are currently where you want to be," Richt said. "Any team that plays a top-10 team has more incentive to get a victory." Georgia faces Tennessee Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 noon ET and the game will be televised nationally on CBS. All Georgia football games will be broadcast on NewsTalk 750 WSB and the WSB/Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network.
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Kentucky's Johnson Second in Sacks
The Southeastern Conference has released its weekly defensive stats report and junior defensive end Dennis Johnson ranks second in the league in quarterback sacks with three. Johnson could easily have four sacks, but he lost one when Ball State quarterback Talmadge Hill was called for an intentional grounding penalty while being sacked. Florida's Alex Brown is the league leader with 3.5 sacks.
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Holtz Commends USC Offense on 'Pretty Good Week'
Following Thursday's practice, USC head coach Lou Holtz commented that he thought the Gamecocks had put in a good week of preparation for Saturday's showdown against Kentucky. "We've had a pretty good week," said Holtz. "Corey Jenkins and Dondrial Pinkins have looked good, as has the entire offense."
 
Coach Holtz said he was concerned not having starting defensive end Dennis Quinn, who is out for at least three weeks with a knee injury. "We'll probably have to fill that position by committee," said Holtz. "George Gause or Jonathan Alston will start, and we've also looked at Eric Stroman there. It will be interesting to see how we respond there." Coach Holtz said that George Gause had made great progress since preseason camp. "George Gause played extremely well in the fourth quarter against Alabama," said Holtz. "Let him go through a spring practice and give him another year in the weight room and he will be something else. It is going to be fun to watch him development. Both of the Gauses (cousin Andrea is a wide receiver for USC) showed up big in the fourth quarter last week."
 
Coach Holtz said he expects the starting offensive line to consist of Travelle Wharton (left tackle); Cedric Williams (left guard); Larrell Johnson (center); C.J. Frye (right guard); and Melvin Paige (right tackle).
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CBS Returns to Neyland
CBS Sports returns to Neyland Stadium for Saturday's noon showdown between Tennessee and Georgia, the network's first 2001 visit to Knoxville and the first game of an SEC nationally televised doubleheader. Craig Bolerjack and Andre Ware provide the coverage, and Vols coach Phillip Fulmer hopes the network gets its money's worth. "I think our stadium when it's cranked up is as loud as anybody's in the country," Fulmer said following Thursday's team workout.
 
"Last Saturday night was an incredible setting, so I'm very hopeful our fans will be there early and be there loud. Of course with Georgia's no-huddle offense, they could be a factor." Saturday's crowd of 108,472 was the second-largest in stadium history as the Vols outlasted LSU 26-18. Thursday in practice, Fulmer stressed his team's need the understand the challenge of looking ahead to the Bulldogs. "Georgia is a really good team on both sides of the ball and a good kicking team," he said. "We'll have to play well and make a minimum number of mistakes to win the football game. It will be interesting to see how the game within the game (unfolds), and what we need to do."
 
Tennessee (3-0, 2-0 SEC) is ranked sixth by Associated Press an

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