Monday, September 15, 2008

Notes from after the weekend

AUBURN — Look for Wadley native Terrell Zachery to take on an increased role in the Auburn offense this week.
Zachery was the first player Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin singled out Sunday as someone who had earned more playing time.
“We’re trying to figure out what everybody can do — what are their best assets?” Franklin said. “Then we make sure they’re in there doing that.
“Zachery, for example. He came in and time after time after time, he made unbelievable blocks. Great feet. Great leverage. Busted his butt and he’s a good receiver. That tells me that he needs to play more. We’re not playing him enough. He’s very unselfish when he comes in and does that stuff.”
Zachery started the season-opener, but has played sparingly in the past two games.
He did register his first collegiate catch during Auburn’s 27-13 win against Southern Mississippi.
• MCFADDEN’S BIG MOMENT: Cornerback Jerraud Powers laughed Sunday afternoon when asked about Walt McFadden’s game-clinching interception.
Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads called the play one of the greatest interceptions he had ever seen, but Powers thought there was a great deal of luck involved.
“(It was) one hell of a play and one lucky catch,” Powers said. “Walt never catches picks in practice. That’s the thing: Coach Rhoads gets on him all the time for dropping picks in practice. Rhoads always says if you drop them in practice, you’re going to drop them in the game.
“So, Walt’s beat on a stop-and-go. And they teach us to play the receiver’s hands and the receiver flashes his hands, and (Walt) throws his hands up and, boom, the ball gets stuck on his shoulder pads. I’m like, ‘What in the world?’
“It was just one of those plays. We needed it. He knew we need a big play and he made it and I’m happy for it.”
As Powers said, Mississippi State receiver Brandon McRae burnt McFadden on a stop-and-go on the play. McFadden was in recovery mode when he batted the ball up out of McRae’s hands.
McFadden said it was an easy catch from there.
“It was a play we watched a few times today in enjoyment,” Rhoads said.
• D-LINE SHINES: Rhoads said that while linebacker Tray Blackmon was the defense’s most valuable player on Saturday, the defensive linemen played their assignments perfectly.
That made it very difficult for Mississippi State to establish the run.
“We just didn’t lose any of those gaps hardly all evening,” Rhoads said. “Because of that, we were successful at stopping the run. There’s nine guys that you’re talking about and all of them are stepping forward and playing extremely hard and extremely well.”
Tuberville made a point to single out the defensive tackles for their strong work.
The rotation of Sen’Derrick Marks, Mike Blanc, Tez Doolittle, Zach Clayton and Jake Ricks has gone from an unknown to one of the strongest parts of the team.
“I like all five of our defensive tackles,” Tuberville said. “That’s one reason we’re playing good defense. We’ve got guys rest, moving them in and out. It’s important you have depth in games like that early in the season.”
Blackmon led the team with six tackles and was named the defensive player of the game. Tuberville said it was his best college game.
• KICKING HIMSELF: Wes Byrum did not have a memorable night on Saturday.
The sophomore kicker produced all of Auburn’s points when he made a 35-yard field goal, but he made three bad mistakes in the game as well.
The first mistake came when he missed a 42-yard field goal. He later missed a chip-shot 22-yard field goal and later kicked a free kick out of bounds.
“(I was) disappointed in our special teams,” Tuberville said. “We can’t miss two field goals in conference games and not come away points. Our offense did the job in getting us down there, we just couldn’t take advantage and we should have had two more field goals.”
Byrum said Sunday that his mechanics were off during the game.
He also said the key is to forget about his troubles against the Bulldogs and get ready for LSU.
“I’m really just trying to forget about the last game,” Byrum said. “We should do the same thing every week, no matter who we’re playing. Just put last night into the back of our heads. It’s gone, and focus on what’s coming up.”
• LESTER OK: After a suffering a frightening neck injury Saturday night, Tuberville said tailback Brad Lester was walking around the athletic complex on Sunday.
Lester was walking on his own power after the game Saturday and was diagnosed with a sprained neck.
Tuberville said X-rays and the MRI turned out negative, but Lester would still go see neurosurgeon Dr. Swaid Swaid in Birmingham this week.
During the post-game press conference, Tuberville said Lester would play this week against LSU. He backed off that comment Sunday, saying his status is currently unclear.
• BURNS NOTICE: Tuberville said Sunday that he was the reason backup quarterback Kodi Burns didn’t play against Mississippi State.
Chris Todd won the starting quarterback spot just last week. Tuberville and Franklin both repeatedly said Burns would still have a role on the offense.
“I know everybody wonders why Kodi didn’t play,” Tuberville said. “A lot of that had to do with me. I thought putting him in a situation where our back was to the wall a lot in certain situations, I wanted it to be a positive note when he goes back in the game. And we’ve got to find the right situation.”
• ‘GAMEDAY’ VISIT: ESPN’s weekly college football preview show, College GameDay, announced on Sunday it would broadcast live from Auburn this weekend, highlighting the Auburn-LSU tilt.
Auburn is 5-3 when GameDay features its games. The Tigers have won their past four GameDay games. The most recent win came in 2006, when Auburn upset No. 2 Florida, 27-17.
• JUMPED BY ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide jumped Auburn in the AP top 25 when the newest poll was released on Sunday. Auburn is ranked 10th while Alabama cracked the top 10 at no. 9.
Auburn is still ranked ahead of Alabama in the USA Today Poll, where the Tigers are no. 9 and the Crimson Tide is no. 13.
— Luke Brietzke


memphish said...

Thanks for all the updates. It's especially helpful to all of us out of state Auburn fans. 1 minor note. If you could put in a return between sections within the post it would be a lot more readable, especially in the RSS feed.

Luke Brietzke said...

No problem. Thanks for the note. Feel free to drop any questions here in the future.