Sunday, November 2, 2008

Receiver Slaughter draws praise

AUBURN – One day after receiver Chris Slaughter enjoyed a breakout performance against Ole Miss, he drew praise from his quarterback.
“He’s doing what he's been doing all year,” Kodi Burns said. “He’s an extremely good receiver. He can go get the ball. Coach thought he could be one of those go-to guys. Rod (Smith) got hurt, but that lets you know that we have great depth at wide receiver that a guy like Chris can step in, take (Smith’s) spot and do what he did.”
It looks as though Slaughter will continue to enjoy an extended role.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said Sunday that Smith’s hip-pointer would probably keep him out of Saturday’s game against UT Martin.
Slaughter said he didn’t mind backing up Smith, but is excited to continue in a bigger role.
“Rod Smith’s a good player. I wouldn’t mind backing him up,” Slaughter said. “He just told me when he got hurt, ‘You’ve got to go out there and make some plays.’ Rod — he’s a good leader, so I was convinced.”
In Smith’s stead, Slaughter caught eight passes for 131 yards.
He also caught two deep passes — one for 37 yards and another for 42.
“I had a couple of chances (earlier in the season) but it didn’t make it to the point of me catching the ball,” Slaughter said. “But when I get a chance to get my hands up on the ball, I’m going to make a big play.”
• INJURY REPORT: Tuberville said Sunday that injuries are causing serious problems along the defensive line.
Tuberville said defensive linemen Sen’Derrick Marks (both ankles), Tez Doolittle (groin) and Mike Blanc (possible broken hand) would all miss practice this week. Defensive ends Antonio Coleman (ankle) and Michael Goggans (ankle) were also expected to miss practice.
Linebacker Josh Bynes (deep thigh bruise) is also expected to miss practice until Wednesday. Linebacker Merrill Johnson (hamstring) is questionable for Saturday’s game.
Another player expected to miss practice until Wednesday, cornerback Walt McFadden (ankle, knee), practiced Sunday.
Tuberville said cornerback Jerraud Powers (hamstring) and Neiko Thorpe (ankle) would miss Saturday’s game.
• NEED A WIN: In the midst of a four-game losing streak, Tuberville said it doesn’t matter who the Tigers beat.
They just need to beat someone — even if it is an FCS team such as UT Martin.
“Any win’s big, obviously, when you’re struggling like us,” Tuberville said. “Even if you’re not, you look for a game you know you can compete in. The last few games, we’ve been struggling getting to the stadium and thinking that we had a chance, because of the things that these kids have been through and the injuries that we’ve had.”
Auburn hadn’t lost four consecutive games since 2001.
The losing streak has dropped Auburn from an SEC West contender to a team that needs to pull an upset just to qualify for a bowl game.
• FAMILY MATTERS: With rumors circulating about his job security, Tuberville was asked during his Sunday teleconference how his family is handling the speculation.
“They’re fine. They hear talk like everybody else, but they know the business,” Tuberville said. “They know how tough it is. You’ve got to deal with the good and the bad.”
• NOT TELLING: Tuberville said all last week that he would decide who would kick field goals shortly before opening kickoff.
Wes Byrum kicked the Tigers’ lone extra point, but Auburn didn’t attempt any field goals.
Tuberville was asked who would have tried a hypothetical field goal, but he stonewalled the question.
“I’m going to go to the grave with that one,” he said.
— Luke Brietzke

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