Etheridge Injury Leaves Tigers Hurting

Auburn safety Zac Etheridge is likely out for the rest of the season after an injury during Saturday's game.

Auburn, Ala.--Saturday's 33-20 victory over Ole Miss was a costly one for the Auburn Tigers as on Sunday Coach Gene Chizik said that junior safety Zac Etheridge is likely out for the rest of the season after being carted off the field in the first quarter. Injured after colliding with teammate Antonio Coleman while tackling Rodney Scott, Etheridge's exact injuries are still uncertain according to Chizik.

"In just talking with the doctors it appears that he's out for the season," Chizik said. "That being said, we're very hopeful for a full recovery. I don't want to go into full details on the whole thing because I don't really know the exact details of it."

Always a scary scene when a player is unconscious or not moving on the field, Saturday's situation was made even worse because Etheridge was laying on top of Scott on the field. That made for some tense moments for the medical staff, but Chizik said Scott handled things with a great deal of care.

"It was one of the most amazing things I've seen," Chizik said. "It was Rodney Scott. I've got to give that young man a lot of credit. I don't know how he knew, but he just knew he couldn't move. He sat as still as the night laying right underneath him. I've got to give that young man a lot of credit. It was one of the most phenomenal things I've witnessed."

Auburn's most experienced player with 33 career starts and 36 games played, Etheridge was fourth on the team in tackles this season with 52 after leading the team last season. His loss leaves the already thin secondary reeling late in the season.

When he went down against Ole Miss sophomore Mike Slade came on and finished out the game. Chizik said he did a solid job, but they're going to exhaust all options this week to try to find the best fit for the remaining three weeks of the regular season.

"I think the whole level of our defense kind of picked up when Zac went out," Chizik said. "I think everybody kind of took it upon themselves to do that. Mike filled in adequately, but I think the whole level of our defense stepped it up a notch.

"We will get creative to make sure we put the best guy out there that gives us the best chance to win," he added. "We don't really know exactly, we've got to work through some things in the next couple of days to figure out what that is. It might be Mike (Slade). It might be a guy moving over. We'll explore all the options."

A longshot at this point could be bringing back junior Mike McNeil. Out after breaking his leg late in spring practice, the Mobile native hasn't played to this point in the season and Chizik wouldn't rule out the possibility he could play.

"I will never say no chance," Chizik said. "Right now that's not the direction I think we're leaning. We'll throw everything on the table."

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