SEC Football Notebook

The University of Alabama football team held its second straight full-contact workout with a two and one-half hour session Wednesday afternoon in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.

"We had another good practice," Alabama head coach Dennis Franchione said. "We have had two good days of work. The physical part is over with. We need a good cleanup day (Thursday). We had a couple of segments that were more physical than our normal schedule, especially when we focused on the third-and-one situations."

Franchione expects the outcome of Saturday's game to be decided in the trenches as the SEC's best rushing offense (Alabama, 229.4 ypg) meets the SEC's best rushing defense (Tennessee, 47.5 ypg).

"I expect a physical game," Coach Fran added. "It will come down to our offensive line against the defensive line and vice versa. If we are not able to sustain some success in the trenches, then we will have a hard time winning the game."

Alabama will host the 11th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers this Saturday at 2:34 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The annual "Third Saturday in October" clash will be televised nationally by CBS Sports.

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Razorbacks Continue Preparations for Auburn; Holmes Suspended Indefinitely

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Sophomore tailback Brandon Holmes has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt announced Wednesday.

"Brandon has been suspended indefinitely," Nutt said. "We are still gathering all the facts and I won't know until then how long he will be out. We are all disappointed because this hurts our team. But, we are going to do what is right for him and for the team."

Holmes had appeared in five games, earning three starts, before being sidelined with an injury against Weber State. Holmes has carried the ball 48 times for 165 yards with three touchdowns for the Razorbacks this season.

Nutt said tailbacks Fred Talley and Cedric Cobbs will need to step up their games in Holmes' absence.

"Right now Fred and Cedric have got to carry us through," Nutt said. "They know that and they will do it. We will get Decori Birmingham some more carries and possibly De'Arrius Howard, although we would still like to redshirt him."

Overall, Nutt was pleased with the Razorbacks' effort during their hour and a half workout Wednesday. Nutt said all of the underclassmen were given a series at the end of practice.

"Today was a good day," Nutt said. "We were able to get a lot accomplished. All of the redshirt freshmen, true freshmen and sophomores and guys that have just not gotten many snaps got some work in today. It was good to see them get some work in and they had a good scrimmage."

The Razorbacks will practice again on Thursday before taking Friday and Saturday off. Arkansas will resume practice on Sunday as they continue preparations for the Auburn Tigers.

The Hogs and Tigers will kickoff at 11:30 a.m. next Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot.

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Tuberville Wants Better Play from Defense

AUBURN, Ala. -- Head Coach Tommy Tuberville continued to stress the importance of the play of the defense as Auburn continued preparations for a Louisiana Tech offense that is averaging more than 400 yards a game. The Tigers practiced for just over two hours in cool conditions on the practice fields Wednesday.

"The guys have been jumping around. They know what's in front of them," Tuberville said. "On defense, they know that they have to play probably even better than they did last week. They're going to have to keep the intensity up and tackle better than we did last year. We missed a lot of tackles against Louisiana Tech. They executed well. They didn't drop hardly any passes and their quarterback was on target. It was a long day for us on defense. Fortunately, we were able to score more points than they did.

"Defensively, we've worked on pressuring their quarterback. But, the main thing is try to get in the right position to make the tackle. Offensively, we're trying to put more of our offense in. Daniel (Cobb) has been working with the first-team and Jason (Campbell) and Jeff (Klein) have been working with the second-team. I think it has gone well."

Tuberville said that several players that have been slowed with injuries have returned to practice including tight end Robert Johnson, fullback/linebacker Brandon Johnson, cornerback Travaris Robinson and defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil.

Auburn will face Louisiana Tech Saturday at 1 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the 88th observance of Homecoming. Gates at the stadium will open at 10:30 a.m.

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Defense Dominates Georgia Practice

ATHENS, Ga. -- The No. 17-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (4-1, 3-1) practiced for two-and-a-half hours in shoulder pads and shorts on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for this Saturday's SEC matchup with Kentucky (1-5, 0-4).

According to head coach Mark Richt, the defense outplayed the offense during the session.

"'Defense' is all I've got to say," Richt said. "The defense dominated the 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice, especially the No. 2 'D' versus the No. 1 'O,' which is kinda scary."

"Overall, it was a good practice," Richt continued. "Nobody got hurt."

The Bulldogs face the Wildcats this Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast regionally by Jefferson Pilot TV. The UGA-UK matchup has aired on Jefferson Pilot each of the last three years, with the Bulldogs winning each outing. In addition, all Georgia football games are broadcast on NewsTalk 750 WSB and the WSB/Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network.

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Wildcats Among SEC Defensive Statistics Leaders

Seven Kentucky Wildcats are among the individual leaders in the weekly defensive statistics released by the Southeastern Conference. Those Wildcats are listed below, along with their placement in the various categories:

DE Dennis Johnson -- second in quarterback sacks (4); fourth in tackles for loss (7.5); fourth in fumbles caused (2)

LB Chris Gayton -- eighth in total tackles (54)

FS Anthony Wajda -- 15th in total tackles (47), 13th in pass breakups (5)

DE Chris Demaree -- 12th in tackles for loss (5)

DE Otis Grigsby -- fifth in quarterback sacks (2.5)

CB Leonard Burress -- fifth in pass breakups (7)

S Patrick Wiggins -- fourth in fumbles caused (2)

Running Game Showing Progress: Being more effective in the running game was a preseason point of emphasis for Coach Guy Morriss and, to this point, the Wildcats have made progress in that area.

For the season, Kentucky is averaging 129.8 yards per game, up 19.7 yards per game from last year's average of 110.1 yards. UK also is averaging 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, a marked improvement from last year's 4.0 per carry average. In addition, UK's average of 4.7 yards per attempt ranks second in the SEC, trailing only Alabama, which is averaging 5.1 yards per rush. The Wildcats running game will be challenged sternly on Saturday. The Georgia defense ranks fifth in the SEC and 27th nationally against the run, allowing only 117.6 rushing yards per game. The Bulldogs are surrendering a mere 3.1 yards per rushing attempt.

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Tigers Continue to Prepare for Mississippi State

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU continued its preparations for Mississippi State with a two-hour practice here Wednesday at the LSU practice facility.

The Tigers enters Saturday's contest coming off a 29-25 last-minute win over Kentucky last weekend. LSU is 3-2 overall and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference action. Mississippi State has dropped four straight, including a 21-9 decision to Troy State last Saturday, and stands at 1-4 overall and 0-3 in league play. Last year, the Tigers posted a 45-38 overtime win over the Bulldogs in Baton Rouge.

"We've had a couple of good practices and I have been pleased with the attitude of the players," LSU coach Nick Saban said after practice on Wednesday. "I think the players are upbeat and positive about trying to improve as a team. I think that was the focus of this week's practices.

"No matter if you are a freshman just trying to get some playing time or a player who will advance their career in the future, your overall focus should be on improving as a player so that your overall performance will help the team."

Saban said that sophomore running back Devery Henderson returned to practice on Tuesday and should play on Saturday. Henderson sat out the Kentucky game with an injured ankle, while offensive lineman Dwayne Pierce practiced for the first time on Wedensday since injuring his ankle in the Florida contest two weeks ago.

"Devery Henderson has practiced two days and didn't seem to have any problems related to his injury," Saban said. "Dwayne Pierce is day to day and not at 100 percent. Everyone else seems to be okay for Saturday's game."

The Tigers will practice again on Thursday followed by a walk-thru in Tiger Stadium on Friday before departing for Starkville on Friday afternoon. Kickoff for Saturday's contest is 8 p.m. and it will be televised to a national audience by ESPN2.

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Holtz Likens Vandy Offense to NFL's Rams

USC head coach Lou Holtz said he has been pleased with his team's practices this week. "We've had two good days work on Tuesday and Wednesday," said Holtz. "We didn't throw and catch the ball like we need to this afternoon, but the tempo was good and the focus was there."

Coach Holtz said that Regis Philbin, a close friend and host of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" called him Wednesday morning to wish the team well. "Regis follows the Gamecocks very closely," said Holtz. "He subscribes to the Spurs and Feathers and knows who the players are. I asked him to send me the game plan for this Saturday."

Coach Holtz said that football is the one sport in which you have to wait several days before playing again. "In baseball you play the next day; in basketball you play the next couple of days; in tennis you play the same afternoon. In football, you have to wait at least seven days. After last week, that's tough," said Holtz.

Coach Holtz said that Vanderbilt has an excellent offense, based around their quarterback (Greg Zolman), tailback (Lew Thomas) and wide receiver (Dan Stricker). "You look at all of the great offenses, and they have great players at those three positions," said Holtz. "The Cowboys had Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith; the St. Louis Rams have Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce. Vanderbilt has excellent players at all three of those positions."

Coach Holtz believes Vanderbilt will throw the ball at least 60 percent of the time Saturday. "We need to do a better job of getting off our blocks and disrupting the quarterback," said Holtz. "We need to understand what our limitations are and minimize our mistakes."

Coach Holtz said he believes that both the USC offense and defense feel a sense of urgency as they prepare for this Saturday's game. "We didn't play well on offense and we didn't play well on defense against Arkansas," said Holtz. "Both sides of the ball feel a sense of urgency."

Coach Holtz said he expects to find something out about his team this weekend. "I think we'll find out if that was the real South Carolina football team last week or not," said Holtz. "We lost our poise in the first half of the game, but regrouped and did some good things in the second half. We only had the ball four times on offense in the second half, and on three of those drives we went over 60 yards but only got seven points."

Coach Holtz said that some of the Gamecocks were bumped and bruised, but he expected offensive tackle Travelle Wharton (ankle) to start and cornerback Andre Goodman (bruised knee) to start. "We have some players who are banged up," said Holtz. "I even got hurt at practice today. Rod Thomas tripped over my calf during a kicking drill and that's hard to do. That's like tripping over a string."

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Vols' Time of Possession Prowess May Prove Vital

Tennessee's return to the road for the first time in six weeks has the Vols stressing fundamentals during "Bama Week" preparations. One of those essentials -- especially against what will be a vociferous crowd at Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium -- is winning the time of possession battle.

"It is an important part of what we've been able to do this year," head coach Phillip Fulmer said following Wednesday's team workout. "I think it's two-fold. One, our defense has gotten people off the field for the most part with three-and-outs. Also, our offense has been able to move the football and, since the first ballgame, significantly improve on our third-down production."

UT's average possession time of 35 minutes, 52 seconds per game leads the Southeastern Conference by more than four minutes over second-place Alabama (31:33). And Tennessee's nearly 14-minute advantage Sept. 8 at Arkansas proved decisive in that road victory. Added Fulmer, "We've been able to keep the ball, move the chains and most of the time keep field position."

The Vols' Wednesday practice at Hudson Field saw the team working on long-yardage situations.

"It's an area we've improved on during the course of the year," Fulmer said. "We look forward to getting a full contingent of our receiving corps out there Saturday."

Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. Central time in Tuscaloosa. CBS carries the national broadcast with Verne Lundquist, Todd Blackledge and Jill Arrington calling the action.

Injury Update: Questionable -- Donte' Stallworth (wrist), DE Will Overstreet (knee).


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