Daily Archive for October 8th, 2007

Bosley may miss Arkansas game

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AUBURN, Ala. ­ Auburn could be without starting center Jason Bosley this week after he sprained his knee in Auburn’s 35-7 win over Vanderbilt.

Trainers helped Bosley off the field just before halftime and he didn’t return to the game. Starting left tackle Ryan Pugh is the backup center and filled in for Bosley in the second half against the Commodores. Senior King Dunlap, who started Auburn’s first three games at left tackle before missing time with an injury, played on Saturday and is expected to start there against Arkansas on Saturday.

“That’s the game plan right now,” offensive line coach Hugh Nall said.

Auburn players said Bosley was walking around on Sunday and called it an “encouraging sight,” although nobody knew when he might return. Most players said they thought he’d be out a week or two.

“I don’t think the injury is quite as serious as we thought it was during the game,” Pugh said. “Seeing him go down was just unfortunate.”

Nall said before the week that he wanted to get Pugh snaps at center and Dunlap at tackle, but he didn’t anticipate an injury facilitating that.

“We’re all hoping he gets back as quick as possible because he’s such a leader in the huddle and on the field. It’s just, not lifeless, but different with him not out there.”

Short practice

The Tigers worked out for just about an hour in helmets and shorts on Sunday, which is a typical workout.

The Tigers will be off today and return to practice on Tuesday.

Imminent return?

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said he didn’t know if the Tigers would get some relief this week from the injuries which have been plaguing the team.

Auburn’s defense dominated Vanderbilt last week despite the absence of four starters ­ safety Aairon Savage, linebackers Tray Blackmon and Merrill Johnson and defensive end Quentin Groves.

“We’ll know more after (Sunday),” Tuberville said. “I hope we get a couple of them back. I was hoping for Blackmon to be back last week, and that didn’t happen.”

Savage twisted a knee against Florida, while Blackmon (ankle) and Johnson (shoulder) have battled nagging injuries. Groves dislocated three toes against Florida and will essentially return when he can handle the pain which will be associated with the injury since there’s no real treatment.

New faces

Auburn’s injuries have put a strain on the starters, particularly the players who also participate on special teams.

Tuberville said that was the reason the Tigers lifted the redshirts from freshmen Ryan Williams and Josh Bynes last week. Both were slated to redshirt this year, but the Tigers need depth.

Perhaps the most surprising newcomer on the special teams was third-team quarterback Blake Field, who played on punt return.

“Coach (Eddie) Gran came to me and asked me to do it,” Field said. “I was like ‘Yeah, sure.’ What’s it going to hurt? It will toughen me up, maybe prepare me for next year.”

Field was actually an all-state punter while at Cairo (Ga.) High and has always been considered athletic. He said if he had the speed, he could be a wedge buster on kickoffs.

“I am if I get there first, but we’ve got other guys, like Mike McNeil, who are a little faster than me,” Field said.

Injuries Update: Bosley, Grooves, Blackmon, Johnson

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Consistency is KEY.

But Auburn’s offensive line, which had built valuable chemistry over the last three games, is likely to have a new look Saturday against Arkansas.

Center Jason Bosley missed Sunday’s practice with an injured left knee. Head coach Tommy Tuberville said Bosley was unlikely to play this weekend.

“It doesn’t look good,” Tuberville said.

With Bosley’s status unclear – a diagnosis won’t be available for a day or two – true freshman Ryan Pugh moves to center. Pugh began the year as AU’s backup center, but replaced senior King Dunlap at left tackle three games ago, against New Mexico State.

Since moving to left tackle, Pugh has spent between 12 and 25 plays each practice at center, mostly with the second-team offensive line.

He’ll spend all of this week at center, according to offensive line coach Hugh Nall.

If Bosley can’t play, Pugh will start at center, with Dunlap returning to left tackle. The rest of the line – right tackle Lee Ziemba and guards Tyronne Green and Chaz Ramsey – will remain the same.

That fivesome played together for the first time against Vanderbilt, after Bosley’s second-quarter injury. The line wasn’t perfect – Nall said performance “dropped off some” after Bosley’s injury. But the more they work together, the better the new combination will be.

That’s especially true for Pugh, who has some experience at center but very little at making calls for the first-team line. Making that adjustment is priority No. 1 for the line this week in practice.

“It’s just a matter of getting reps, getting in there and everybody hearing him make the calls with that group,” Nall said. “He’s been working center with the second group all this time – he just hasn’t worked with the first group all that much.”

Pugh says he prefers to play tackle, but is looking forward to the challenge at center this week.

“Maybe I’m young, but I still think I’m a leader on the team,” he said. “It’s something that you have take upon yourself readily and prove to everyone.

“(Bosley) knows the playbook and knows the offense real well, and he’s not going to miss many calls. … I’m not going to be Jason, but I’ll be closest thing that I can get to.”

AU returns to polls

After a three-week hiatus, Auburn is back in the top 25. The Tigers fell out of the rankings Sept. 9, after their loss to South Florida.

After a loss to Mississippi State the following week, AU has won three consecutive games – including a road upset of then-No. 4 Florida – and improved to 4-2 and 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Pollsters have taken notice.

Auburn is ranked No. 22 in this week’s Associated Press poll, with 248 points. The Tigers are 59 points behind No. 21 Florida State and 112 points ahead of No. 23 Texas.

Seven SEC teams are ranked in this week’s AP poll: No. 1 LSU, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 13 Florida, No. 17 Kentucky, No. 22 Auburn, No. 24 Georgia and No. 25 Tennessee.

AU is ranked 25th in the coaches’ poll, just six points behind No. 24 Purdue.

Injury report

Bosley isn’t the only Auburn starter in jeopardy of missing this weekend’s game.

Defensive end Quentin Groves (dislocated toes), safety Aairon Savage (knee) and linebackers Tray Blackmon (ankle) and Merrill Johnson (shoulder) all missed last Saturday’s win against Vanderbilt but will most likely play again Arkansas.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said coaches wouldn’t know the injured players’ status until today or Tuesday.

mitch

AU VANDY HIGHLIGHTS

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