SEC Football Notebook

The Auburn football team put its finishing touches on the game plan for Saturday's matchup with top-ranked Florida with an hour and a half practice on the Athletic Complex practice fields. Head Coach Tommy Tuberville was very pleased with his team's effort this week in practice.

The University of Alabama football team practiced for two hours Thursday afternoon in helmets and shorts, winding down what head coach Dennis Franchione called the "most complete" week of practice this year.

"It was a good Thursday," Franchione said. "This was the most complete week of practice we have had so far. It was a good week. We had very good focus today. It was a clean day of work."

The Crimson Tide practiced outdoors in the light to moderate rain that fell on the practice field for most of the two-hour session.

"I think all of us would to play in good (weather) conditions," Franchione added. "But come 11:30 a.m. on Saturday we will declare a winner. We have to be ready to play. That is our only concern right now. We can't sit around and worry about other things"

Alabama will stage a light workout in Tuscaloosa on Friday before heading to Mississippi for its upcoming game with the Ole Miss Rebels. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. and the game will be televised by Jefferson Pilot Sports.

Assistant head coach and receivers coach Kenith Pope was released from DCH Regional Medical Center on Thursday after surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his left quadriceps. He was not at practice on Thursday but is expected to make the trip to Ole Miss this weekend.

Defensive end Antwan Odom was also released from DCH Regional Medical Center on Thursday and attended the afternoon practice session with his left shoulder heavily bandaged. Odom had shoulder surgery on Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the season. He is eligible for a medical redshirt.

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The Auburn football team put its finishing touches on the game plan for Saturday's matchup with top-ranked Florida with an hour and a half practice on the Athletic Complex practice fields. Head Coach Tommy Tuberville was very pleased with his team's effort this week in practice.

"We had a very good week of practice," Tuberville said. "The players are ready to play. We kind of eased up a little in practice today, but we are excited about playing on Saturday."

Tuberville also noted the importance of having more consistency from the offense this week in order to be successful against Florida.

"We challenged the offense this week to score more points. No matter how well our defense plays, we will not win the game if we don't score points."

Florida's defense is currently ranked first in the SEC in scoring defense (9.0 points per game), second in rushing defense (71.8 avg.) and third in total defense (274 avg.).

Kickoff for Saturday's game between the Tigers and Gators is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. CT. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN, and fans are encouraged to arrive early to the stadium due to enhanced security.

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The 19th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (3-1, 2-1 SEC) practiced for just under two hours Thursday at the Woodruff Practice Fields, working out in helmets, jerseys and shorts in final preparations for Saturday's game versus Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2 SEC).

Georgia coach Mark Richt noted that LB Ryan Fleming should be ready to play in Saturday's game. Richt also commented on LB Will Witherspoon who is recovering from a knee injury.

"(Witherspoon) was running pretty fast today in a straight line," Richt said. "He won't play this weekend. For Kentucky he may. He's probably questionable for that game."

Georgia faces the Commodores on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn., with a 2 p.m. ET start time. All Georgia football games will be broadcast on NewsTalk 750 WSB and the WSB/Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network. (Note: If the Atlanta/Houston baseball playoff series is still going on Saturday, the Georgia football game will be carried on 98.5 FM). Saturday's game will not be televised.

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Sophomore offensive tackle Antonio Hall returned to practice on Thursday but is still listed as questionable for the Louisiana State game on Saturday, Coach Guy Morriss said after Thursday's two-hour workout at the Nutter Training Facility.

"Antonio practiced and moved around pretty well, but he wasn't pushing any loads," Morriss said. "I don't want to be too optimistic, but he does have 48 more hours to get better. I hope he will at least be ready for backup duty."

Morriss said that he still planned to start redshirt freshman Jason Rollins at left guard, sophomore Nick Seitze at center, and redshirt freshman Matt Huff at right tackle. All three would be making their first collegiate starts as they replace injured regulars Keith Chatelain (ankle), Nolan DeVaughn (shoulder), and Hall (ankle). All three players were injured in last Saturday's game at South Carolina.

In addition to the offensive linemen, other starters who won't play Saturday include linebacker Ronnie Riley, defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, safety David Johnson and running back Chad Scott.

Morriss knows his team faces a difficult opponent in LSU. Asked about the athleticism of LSU, Morriss said, "I put on the LSU-Tennessee game film, and it looked like two NFL teams out there."

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Gamecock Head Coach Lou Holtz commented after Thursday's practice about the importance of Saturday's game at Arkansas. "Everything I read is that this is a big game for Arkansas. This is a key to their season, and all. Someone needs to realize that this is a big game for us too."

Holtz is concerned about the forecast Saturday calling for "terrible weather" in Little Rock. "That bothers me. It's supposed to be a heavy downpour. They (Little Rock) had three inches of rain today and it won't be to our advantage at all. But, we can't control that as long as it rains on both sides of the ball"

Holtz announced that offensive right tackle Melvin Paige will be available to play after recovering from a sore knee. Holtz said that tackle Jeff Barnes definitely is out for the contest, while tackle Travelle Wharton will travel, but his participation Saturday is questionable. "Travelle came out dressed today and was going to try and do something, but we held him out."

Holtz said that quarterback Phil Petty has a pulled muscle in his rib cage, which "bothers him somewhat. We were afraid of appendicitis last night, but he was OK and should be fine by Saturday."

Holtz confirmed that the starting offensive line probably will be (from left to right): Shane Hall (LT), Cedric Williams (LG), Larrell Johnson (C), Kevin Rivers (RG) and Paige.

Holtz was relieved that cornerback Sheldon Brown's injury in Wednesday's practice was not serious. "He scared me yesterday. It turned out to be more of a stinger than anything else."

Holtz remains concerned about defending third downs. "I'm really worried about third down pass defense. We started out Monday and Tuesday with some really good days on pass defense, but today we weren't really sharp."

Holtz said defensively Arkansas gives teams a lot of problems with different sets. "I think offensively, we know how we want to attack them, but whether we can effectively remains to be seen."

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Taking advantage of an open date and academic scheduling the Vols had an early morning workout on Thursday after which Coach Fulmer gave the team the weekend off.

Fulmer continued to allude to the fact that the open date came at a opportune time for healing and improvement. "This was a good week to heal bumps and bruises and to work with our younger players," Fulmer said. "It also gave us three good days to work on our kicking game and a jump start on our preparations for next week's game against the Crimson Tide. We should be at near l00 percent when we get back to work on Monday."

The good news was welcome to the offensive line which lost two starters in the win against LSU. Guard Jason Respert's ankle injury required surgery, putting him on the shelf for the rest of the season. However, offensive tackle Reggie Coleman appears fully recovered from his ankle injury and will reassume his starting position at left tackle. Anthony Herrera will return to his right guard spot after a one-week stay at the tackle position. All in all, the Vol line is strengthened not only by Coleman's return, but the decision to insert sophomore Sean Young into the offensive line rotation when it appeared he might be headed for a redshirt year. Young started and saw considerable playing time against Georgia.

Fulmer also noted the wideout Donte' Stallworth would be back on the practice field Monday and should have the cast removed from his wrist Wednesday. Even though his playing status is still questionable, his return to practice is good news for the Vol receiving corps. Stallworth, the top returning receiver from 2000, hasn't played since being injured in the Syracuse game. Fulmer did say that defensive end Will Overstreet, who was injured against LSU, is still listed as doubtful as the Vols begin preparations for Alabama.

When Tennessee hits the field Monday, it will begin a stretch of seven consecutive games in as many weeks. The 2001 schedule and the Attack on America, which caused postponement of the Florida game from Sept. 15 to Dec. 1, have resulted in three open dates mixed in with four games. With the Vols at 3-1 overall (2-1 SEC), it's important for the team to be ready for a stretch which includes five conference games, a trip to Notre Dame, and Homecoming match with Memphis. The first of this stretch is back-to-back SEC games against Alabama (Oct. 20 at Tuscaloosa) and at home against South Carolina (Oct. 27), before the trip to South Bend, Ind., Nov. 3. The Vols conclude the schedule with Memphis Nov. 10, a road contest at Kentucky Nov. 17 and the home season finale Nov. 24 against Vanderbilt before the rescheduled game at Florida Dec. 1. THE SEC Championship Game has been moved to Dec. 8 in Atlanta.

The Vols and Tide will square off on CBS with kickoff slated for 2:30 p.m. (CDT), 3:30 p.m. (EDT).


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