Sears Suspended For Georgia Game

The 15th-ranked Auburn Tigers will be without a key defender this Saturday when they travel to face the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in Athens.

Auburn, Ala.-–Junior linebacker Kevin Sears was arrested over the weekend and charged with Driving Under the Influence. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that because of that he won't be in uniform for this weekend's game.

"We had one guy break a team rule this week," Tuberville says. "After investigating it we don't condone what he did. He will miss this week's game with a one-game suspension. After that we'll go back to work with him.

"Unfortunately this happened with the situation we're in and the type of game," he adds. "But our players know that's something we won't put up with."

Sears, who turned 22 in July, is from Russellville, Ala. He has started in three games this season and played in the other six. He started 12 games last season.

With Sears out Karibi Dede will be the main player for the Tigers on the strong side. Dede is currently sixth on the team in tackles with 34 and Tuberville says they have plenty of guys to step up in the absence of Sears at linebacker.

"Somebody will step up and make a play," Tuberville says. "You've got Merrill (Merrill Johnson), all three of those young guys with Courtney (Courtney Harden) and Chris Evans. The starters will be Karibi and A.T. (Antarrious Williams) being back and Travis (Travis Williams). It just hurts our depth."

With Sears out junior Karibi Dede will be the main man for the Tigers on the strong side.

It is the first incident for the Auburn program in almost two years with the last being an arrest of former linebacker Lemarcus Rowell. Tuberville says that while you don't ever want things to happen the program has been fortunate to avoid problems for so long.

"As I've said all along you're going to have some kids do some things that aren't right," Tuberville says. "They're growing up. Hopefully not only himself, but everybody else will learn from this situation. There won't be another thought about it for us as a team. You've got a team and you go play. We'll play well. It's going to be his loss not to have an opportunity to play in a game like this."

Sears will continue to practice with the team and will play in next week's Iron Bowl against Alabama. Without him in the gameplan the Tigers went through the paces for two hours on Wednesday as they get ready for Georgia. Tuberville says the team appears focused and ready to go.

"We had a good day of practice," Tuberville says. "Everybody was out there. Duckworth (offensive guard Timmy Duckworth) practiced full speed. Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor and Brad Lester (practiced). It looks like we're in pretty good shape. We had a good practice. We worked on everything from top to bottom. One more day and we'll go in the stadium tomorrow. We've got a few things we'll work on. It will be completely closed tomorrow and we'll get ready to head to Athens."

Defensive end Marquies Gunn has been troubled with a strained hamstring, but also practiced on Wednesday and will play against Georgia. Elsewhere on defense Antarrious Williams is back to full speed as well after being bothered in recent games with a burner in his neck. Tuberville says other than a few players the team is in pretty good shape physically for Saturday's game. That will be important on defense facing a quarterback like D.J. Shockley.

"This means whether they're going to get to Atlanta or not," Tuberville says. "They'll have their best out there and ready to go. We've prepared for him all week. I'm sure he'll be pretty close to 100 percent."

This season Auburn has excelled on offense in keeping the ball away from the opponent. Recently the Tigers have dominated in time of possession and a reason why has been the running game and third down conversions. Tight end Cooper Wallace says that this weekend against the Bulldogs it will be important to keep the ball moving on offense to control the game.

"We've been concentrating on taking a step forward every game and getting better," Wallace says. "It's all starting to come together now more than it ever has, especially the running game. Our offensive line is just getting better and better. A big part of the Georgia game is being able to run the ball and control the clock."

The Tigers will practice in the stadium Thursday and have a short walk-through on Friday before heading to Atlanta. Kickoff for the Auburn-Georgia match-up is scheduled for 6:45 CST and can be seen on ESPN.

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