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September 27, 2007

Notebook: SEC's Eastern Division


The fourth-ranked Gators will be without receiver Andre Caldwell at least another week and might not have Percy Harvin at full speed Saturday when they host Auburn (2-2, 0-1).

Caldwell missed the last two games with a sprained ligament in his right knee. Coach Urban Meyer had hoped to have him back Saturday but said Tuesday that Caldwell likely won't play. He should be back next week at No. 2 LSU.

Harvin, meanwhile, missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday because of a hip pointer.

Harvin injured his hip last week at Mississippi. He left the game but returned to finish with 11 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.

Meyer said he expected Harvin to practice by Friday. Harvin, who has battled tendinitis in his knee and in his Achilles' tendon this fall, leads the Gators (4-0, 2-0) with 21 catches for 336 yards and three scores.

"It's a concern because he's missing practice," Meyer said. "He plays better when he practices. He's killing himself trying to get back. They had him running, he wasn't even supposed to run (Tuesday), but he was fighting through it. I've coached guys with hip pointers before. He'll be fine. I just worry about missing practice."

Meyer said cornerback Markihe Anderson (knee) also will not play against Auburn.


Senior Brandon Coutu missed two field-goal tries against Alabama, including a 47-yarder at the end of regulation that could have won the game.

Even so, Georgia coach Mark Richt says he continues to have faith in the kicker, whose first miss was from 50 yards.

"When you watch the kicks, the one he missed short was a long kick," Richt said. "I don't think he hit it just right. I thought he got under it just a tad, but he was dead on."

Richt said Coutu was barely wide on the attempt at the end of regulation, when he had to fight a substantial crosswind.

"I get nervous when a kicker just yanks it," Richt said, indicating that wasn't the case with Coutu.

"When you get the yips as a kicker, then I get the yips as a coach. It's time maybe to make a change, but right now I feel he's doing well."

Coutu is 7-of-10 overall this season and 42-of-53 for his career in field goals. He set a career high with four field goals against South Carolina two weeks ago.

Coutu's 58-yard field goal against Louisiana-Monroe in 2005 was the longest in SEC history without a tee.


If Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson hopes to extend his NCAA record number of passes thrown without an interception, he'll have to do it Saturday against the nation's interception leader.

Florida Atlantic cornerback Tavious Polo, who has six interceptions in the Owls' first four games, certainly has impressed Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.

"He's a ball hawk, obviously," Brooks said. "He's got good hands, and he just makes great breaks on the ball. I don't think I've ever heard of anybody getting six picks in four games. I've had a player get three in one game, but then go dry for a while. That's a very impressive stat at this point in the season."

Last Saturday against Arkansas, Woodson extended his interception-free streak to 296 passes, breaking Trent Dilfer's major college mark of 271. He broke the SEC record a week earlier against Louisville.

Kentucky offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said Polo's success is due, in part, to a bit of good fortune.

"It's a lot of luck that's involved," Phillips said. "(Some teams have tried) to throw wasted passes that go right into his hands. (Florida Atlantic) plays a lot of off coverage, and that's where you get a lot of interceptions. This guy plays off a lot. This guy's got unbelievable ball skills, and it's not only him. They've got 10 interceptions as a team."


Steve Spurrier's had to learn a new way of offense at South Carolina. And that's led to a new way of recruiting.

During the days of Spurrier's high-flying offense at Florida, rival coaches could reasonably tell running back and tight end prospects not to sign with the Gators because they'd only throw it to their talented wide receivers.

Not these days, Spurrier said.

"We've turned into a running back, tight end team, haven't we?" Spurrier said.

Spurrier's heard from too many recruits who get told that "'Steve Spurrier is not going to throw to the tights ends. You're wasting your time going there,"' the head ball coach said, grinning.

The reality, Spurrier says, is if somebody can get open and catch the ball, they'll get it. The evidence this season: Running backs and tight ends number 2 through 6 on South Carolina's catches list so far.

Receiver Kenny McKinley tops things with 23 catches. Next are tailbacks Cory Boyd (13) and Mike Davis (12), then the tight end trio of Jared Cook (6), Andy Boyd (5) and Weslye Saunders (5).

Spurrier hopes some of the team's young receivers can find some open space and make catches.

"It all goes together," he said.


Don't for a minute think kicker Daniel Lincoln waltzed into his starting role with an injury to Britton Colquitt.

Lincoln survived what amounted to coach Phillip Fulmer's boot camp for kickers before he ever set foot on the game field.

"Some of it can't be put into print, most of it can't," Lincoln said. "It's been everything from trying to distract you. Standing behind you talking, yelling at you while you're doing it. Get hit in the head with things, having to run stadiums if you miss something or you get a kick blocked."

Apparently it worked.

Lincoln has been perfect in his eight field goal attempts this season, including a season long 47-yarder against Southern Miss. It's the best season start of any Vols kicker in history.

Along the way he's managed to learn to tune out distractions and rely on his own abilities on the field.

Fulmer, who during preseason practices said Lincoln wouldn't be ready to start at the beginning of the season, has been his harshest critic. Now he praises the redshirt freshman.

"The consistency that he's shown has been very, very positive," Fulmer said. "If you knew where we started to where we are now, it is quite impressive."


Other offensive linemen receive more publicity, but Commodores senior guard Josh Eames gets the job done.

"We just call him 'Old Reliable,"' offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell said.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Eames was named one of two offensive players of the week by team coaches last week after the Commodores defeated Mississippi on Sept. 15.

Eames has quietly been a fixture on the Commodore offensive line since breaking into the starting lineup as a sophomore in 2005.

Since then, some of his teammates including tackles Chris Williams and Brian Stamper have received All-Southeastern Conference recognition and considerably more attention.

"Probably over the years, he's been as consistent as anyone, if not the most consistent," Caldwell said of Eames.

For Eames, it's all about the fundamentals.

"If you have a good technique, that can carry you a long way," he said. "I may not be the fastest or the strongest or the prettiest, but I get the job done."

EAST W L Pct. PF PA   W L Pct. PF PA Streak
Florida 2 0 1.000 89 44   4 0 1.000 197 78 won 4
Kentucky 1 0 1.000 42 29   4 0 1.000 188 93 won 4
South Carolina 1 1 .500 32 40   3 1 .750 98 57 lost 1
Georgia 1 1 .500 38 39   3 1 .750 118 69 won 2
Vanderbilt 1 1 .500 41 41   2 1 .667 82 58 won 1
Tennessee 0 1 .000 20 59   2 2 .500 138 150 won 1
WEST W L Pct. PF PA   W L Pct. PF PA Streak
LSU 2 0 1.000 73 16   4 0 1.000 165 23 won 4
Alabama 2 1 .667 88 74   3 1 .750 140 80 lost 1
Miss. State 1 1 .500 19 59   3 1 .750 88 91 won 3
Auburn 0 1 .000 14 19   2 2 .500 115 78 won 1
Arkansas 0 2 .000 67 83   1 2 .333 113 109 lost 2
Ole Miss 0 2 .000 41 61   1 3 .250 89 120 lost 3

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