By Jay Coulter
Did you ever believe you’d live long enough to see this? Just when we thought nine hours of pregame coverage for the Super Bowl was extravagant, comes this bomb shell. Are you sitting down? ESPN plans to do not one, not two, but 25 hours of pregame coverage for next Thursday night’s LSU-Mississippi State game.
Mississippi State hasn’t been on national television a total of 25 hours in its history.
Beginning next Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET, the World Wide Leader will begin carrying pregame festivities with Reese Davis as host. Can you handle Lou Holtz and Desmond Howard for 25 hours? It sounds like a fitting punishment for Michael Vick.
There was good news out of Auburn practice on Wednesday. Tommy Tuberville said that the kicking game was again one of the highlights of practice. “One of the strengths we’ve had the last few days has been our kicking game,” said Tuberville. “I’ve been real pleased with our kickers, punters and returners. We’ve got to do it in a game, but we’ve made a lot of improvement the last three weeks. It’s been fun to watch these guys compete and get better.”
Practicing in full pads, the first and second teams scrimmaged against each other in a set of pre-scripted plays designed to get game timing down, particularly in substituting from the sidelines.
“We put in a lot of our substitutions and we did a lot of special teams,” said Tuberville. “It was good to see the speed of the game. Some of these young guys don’t realize how quick you have to get in during substitutions, and that you have to be ready for special teams.”
Fullback Carl Stewart continues to struggle with a nagging hamstring injury. He hasn’t practiced since August 2nd. He hopes to be back in a few days, but Tommy Tuberville isn’t so sure.
“It’s not set in stone Carl will be ready,” Tuberville said. “He’s looking pretty good out there. He’s running three-quarters speed, but he hasn’t done anything in three weeks.”
We all remember the struggles Kenny Irons had last year with his hamstring injury. Even if Stewart is ready to go, the fact that he hasn’t practiced all year could be an issue. To make things worse, the only other fullback on scholarship, freshman John Douglas, suffered an ankle sprain. That leaves walk-on Danny Perry as the third option.
As we said last week, it looks like the best bet for now is to move Ben Tate to fullback for the Kansas State game. That’s not a bad idea.
After a lively off-season, linebacker Tray Blackmon has been relatively quiet during fall practice. Blackmon has fought his way back from several off-field issues and says that he’s learned his lesson and is ready to go. Not since Takeo Spikes have we seen someone with this much talent at linebacker.
It’s hard to believe that he’s only played six games. He already has enough film to fill up a highlight reel. Auburn linebackers coach James Willis tells the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer that Blackmon is as fundamentally sound as any he’s ever seen.
“He’s very instinctive,” Willis said. “You could make a training film off the way he tackles. He has IT. He has a nose for the football and he likes contact. When you have those, along with physical strength and speed to get to the ball, you’ve got a great player.”