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Friday Football Primer

By Jay Coulter

Can you believe we are already four weeks into the college football year? OK, maybe that was a bad question to ask. The weeks do seem to fly by during the season – even when times are bad.

My guess is we’ll know something this afternoon on running back Brad Lester. Tommy Tuberville said he wasn’t sure whether Lester would see action tomorrow night if he was cleared to play.

You can bet the house that Lester will play if given the green light from the University. Combine Lester’s (possible) return with that of running back Tristin Davis, and all of the sudden the Tigers are deep at the tailback position. Davis is recovering from a broken toe and could be back as early as next Saturday.  

Even with those possibilities, Auburn still must overcome a depleted offensive line. Starting left tackle King Dunlap is still nursing an elbow injury and is out for this weekend. Backup guard Leon Hart is also gone – for six to eight weeks.

The news is better for right guard Mike Berry. He’s expected to start after hurting his shoulder against Miss State.

Because of the injuries and the inconsistent play on the line, Tuberville is taking a hard look at removing the redshirts from several freshmen including, Ryan Pugh and Chaz Ramsey. You can bet that if they do play, they’ll be in the rotation the rest of the year.

Place close attention to the linebackers Saturday night. Auburn will again be without the services of Tray Blackmon and Merrill Johnson. This is going to hurt big time.

Blackmon is still nursing a high ankle sprain. Doctors and players say that’s one of the toughest injuries to overcome because of the pain and the risk of re-injuring the ankle. Tuberville said that Blackmon was in a lot of pain following practice earlier this week. This doesn’t bode well for Florida next Saturday.

It also looks like freshman defensive back Ryan Williams may see some playing time. So much for the big redshirt class of 2007.

One final note on injuries: Tuberville says that place-kicker Wes Byrum may be healthy enough to perform kickoff duties against New Mexico State. It also appears that punter Ryan Shoemaker may play. He suffered a dislocated elbow against USF.

There’s some sad news out of Jackson, Mississippi. Former Auburn defensive tackle Nate Hill died Tuesday. You may remember that Hill was a four-year letterman for Pat Dye from 1984-87. There was no cause of death listed for the 41 year-old Hill. Our prayers go out to his family this morning.

Here’s a good story from Thursday’s El Paso Times. The article quotes Aggie coaches and players on what they expect when traveling to Jordan-Hare Stadium. It pays Auburn some big compliments.

Here’s some quick info from Auburn Sport Information on New Mexico State...

New Mexico State improved to 2-1 with a 29-24 victory against UTEP last Saturday ... New Mexico State head coach Hal Mumme was the head coach at Kentucky from 1997-2000, but never coached against Auburn ... The Aggies rank fifth in the nation in passing offense (398.7) and 11th in the country in total offense (523.3) ... Junior quarterback Chase Holbrook ranks fourth in the NCAA in total offense (390.0) ... Holbrook has 12 career 300-plus passing games and ranks second in the Aggie record books with 45 touchdown passes ... Junior wideout Chris Williams had 221 yards receiving against UTEP last Saturday and has scored seven touchdowns in the first three games ... Williams is tied for fifth in the nation in scoring and is sixth in receiving yards per game (129.3) ... The Aggies have three receivers with at least 21 catches ... Senior linebacker Dante Floyd leads the Aggies with 32 tackles and had 12 tackles and an interception against UTEP.

Remember, if you can’t make the game this weekend, it’s available on pay-per-view through your cable operator. If you have Direct TV or Dish Network it’s blacked out in the state of Alabama.

It’s the most ridiculous rule I’ve ever seen. You can get it in-state on cable, but not if you have satellite. Write your congressman and complain. I’m sure they’ll get right to work on it for you.

Here are some games of interest that will be televised this weekend (All times are Central)...

Georgia Tech at Virginia – 11:00 – ESPN U
Florida at Ole Miss – 11:30 – Lincoln Financial
South Carolina at LSU – 2:30 – CBS
Michigan State at Notre Dame – 2:30 – NBC
Penn State at Michigan – 2:30 – ABC
Kentucky at Arkansas – 5:00 – ESPN 2
Georgia at Alabama – 6:45 – ESPN

If you are making your way to the Plains, please drive carefully. As always, thanks for stopping in. I hope you and your family have a great weekend. War Eagle!