The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 6, 1997 · Page 143
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December 6, 1997

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 143

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Saturday, December 6, 1997
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8C THE PALM BEACH POST SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1997 MSL w S It's a bum rap: Vols can prove it in SEC title game i ' lAjfl F fit Chargers QB lands on injured reserve A&M has that 'good feeling' ALLEN EYESTONEStaff Photographer Karim Abdul Jabbar, running behind the block of center Tim Ruddy against Green Bay, had a friendly chat with new running back Lawrence Phillips this week. Dolphins have plays drawn for Phillips The Associated Press SAN ANTONIO, Texas The last time the Texas A&M Aggies played in the Alamo-dome, they shocked Michigan 22-20 in the 1995 Alamo Bowl. The No. 14 Aggies hope their experience playing in the stadium will help them against No. 2 Nebraska today in the Big 12 championship game. "Our team has a good feeling about this facility," Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum said Friday. "We won't be in awe of Nebraska. ... We have the same attitude we had against Michigan two years ago." The 16-point underdog Aggies (9-2, 6-2) unlikely will catch Nebraska (11-0, 8-0) on cruise control like Texas did last year in the 37-27 upset of the Cornhuskers in the Big 12 title game. "I've seen a lot of quotes where they have reflected on what happened last year," Slocum said. "In fact, what we've read and seen on television has become almost comiH. It's like we have no chance." B Moss sets record: Marshall's Randy Moss broke the Division I-A record for touchdown receptions in a season with his 23rd and 24th TD catches Friday night against Toledo in the Mid-American Conference championship game. Dolphins I ! Finalists announced for Groza award Conventional wisdom says Tennessee can't win the big games, but a victory over Auburn could change that. By Craig Dokk Palm Beach Post Staff Writer ATLANTA Philip Fulmer has proven he can win football games. The Tennessee Volunteers are 52-10 the past 5V& seasons, making Fulmer the NCAA's winningest active coach. But with five consecutive losses to Florida, Fulmer also has proven he can't win big games at least those played in the Citrus Bowl. College football SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Tennessee vs. Auburn, 8 p.m. TV: WPBF-25, WPLG-10 But Fulmer can change thut perception tonight as well as keep his team's national championship hopes alive when the third-ranked Volunteers (10-1) play No. 11 Auburn (9-2) in the .SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. "I don't think that's a fair assessment at all," Fulmer said of the big-game knock. "We've had a tough time against Florida, but a lot of teams have. I think we've won a lot of big games at Tennessee. We've won our last three bowl games." After Tennessee's 33-20 loss to Florida on Sept. 20, it appeared the Vols would once again be headed to the Citrus Bowl, where they have played three of the past four seasons. But as the Gators suffered midseason losses to LSU and Georgia, Tennessee won its last eight games and reached the SEC title game for the first time in the championship's six-year history- This turnaround has made quarterback Peyton Manning's decision to return for his senior season (he likely would have been the first pick in last year's NFL draft) seem wise. The notion the Vols got to Atlanta through the back door doesn't bother him. "We don't have to apologize for being here," Manning said. "We didn't beat Florida, but we showed a lot of resiliency by winning the rest of our games. We deserve to be here." Tennessee also kept alive its hopes for the school's first national title since 1951. A victory should send the Vols to the Jan. 2 Orange Bowl, where they likely will play No. 2 Nebraska (assuming the Cornhuskers beat Texas A&M in today's Big 12 Championship Game). The national title would go to the Orange Bowl winner if No. 1 Michigan loses to Washington State in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl. But the Vols don't want to talk of the Orange Bowl and a possible national title shot. After all, Tennessee has yet to win an SEC title under Fulmer. "What we've done all year is worry about the next opponent," Tennessee defensive end Jonathan Brown said. "Nebraska will happen as long as we keep winning. We'll just try to keep winning, and the rest of it will take care of itself." Auburn, too, is making its first trip to an SEC title game. The Tigers went 11-0 in- 1993, but NCAA sanctions kept them out of the tide game. There's another subplot to the I UNIQUE 1 Selectively Hiring I 561 963-5924 i 1 874 Sherwood Forest Blvd . CHEAP? 642-8843 23 S 737-8580 Si S t. Cwrw Military Trail i BoyntonBeach tf V 969-0468 Ms V 689-7974 vnumcvamcxmim taOMaMft IMKHtfTipflU MMW Kcrlso'sf I l 0 1 MIVtTI UCMUOMMTIttii IMarCrWHCar AT 432-9232 3485 L Wo Road (across (romi)nve-in i Moss, a sophomore transfer from Florida State, caught scor- : ing passes of 4 and 86 yards to break the mark he shared with : Houston's Manny Hazard, set in 1989. Hazard set his record in 11 games, while Moss played in . his 12th game Friday. B WAC Championship: . The second WAC title game : figures to be a shootout when ; No. 20 Colorado State meets New Mexico in Las Vegas. Colorado State (9-2) is on a seven-game winning streak ; during which it has outscored opponents 300-77. New Mexico (9-2) has won its last three games by a 129-51 margin. B Army vs. Navy: With five r-straight victories against Navy, ' Army is on the verge of the ;, longest winning streak in the ; history of the series when the two service academies meet to- day at Giants Stadium in East .' Rutherford, N.J. However, the combined margin of the Cadets' five straight wins has been 10 points. BHeisman invitees: Ten- nessee's Peyton Manning, Washington State's Ryan Leaf, Michigan's Charles Woodson and Marshall's Randy Moss : were invited to attend next Sat-,' : urday's Heisman Trophy pre- ; , sentation at the Downtown Ath-; -letic Club in New York. yards. He has 94 points and is 37-of-38 in PATs. B Chris Sailer: The UCLA junior is 19-of-24 in field goals, with a long of 50. He has 106 , points and is 22-of-22 in PATs. ; The high school winner of the Lou Groza award will also be announced. The finalists are Brad Banks ". of Glades Central, Anquon Bol-din of Pahokee and Steve Belli-sari from Boca Raton High School. Alliance Bowl possibilities IF TENNESSEE AND NEBRASKA WIN: Tennessee plays Nebraska in Orange Bowl. : Florida State plays Ohio State in Sugar Bowl. Kansas State ' plays Syracuse in Fiesta Bowl. IF TENNESSEE WINS AND NEBRASKA LOSES: Tennessee plays FSU in Orange Bowl. Texas A&M plays Ohio State in Sugar Bowl. Kansas State plays Syracuse in Fiesta Bowl. IF NEBRASKA WINS AND TENNESSEE LOSES: Nebraska plays Florida State in Orange ; Bowl. Auburn plays Ohio State in Sugar Bowl. Kansas State ; plays Syracuse in Fiesta Bowl. IF TENNESSEE AND NEBRASKA LOSE: Florida State plays UCLA in Orange Bowl. Tennessee plays Syracuse in Sugar Bowl. Texas A&M plays-Auburn in the Fiesta Bowl. , Craig Dolch i lUtlVIIVdll HIHJVAIV iff; 963-0070 v t , - 4?on I I.. M t..l. 4290 1Mb In. N., lull 104 NOW C',... L HIRING Jitttna frettu. :i N.E. Corner NorthUke & Military Trail OZj-UOU - Palm Beach Post Wirt Services SAN DIEGO Quarter- back Stan Humphries, after a series of concussions, was . placed on the injured re- serve list Friday by the San Diego Chargers. NFL Humphries has been . sidelined since sustaining the most serious concussion -.. of his career Nov. 2 at Cincinnati. It was his second , , concussion in 18 days and -- fourth in 22 months. He has -. had six since 1993. Wednesday, Kevin Gil-bride met with Humphries to discuss going on the injured reserve list. Humphries has been re-;: placed by third-stringer Craig Whelihan, who has ; thrown six interceptions and four touchdown passes in ' four starts. San Diego (4-9) will host ; Atlanta (5-8) on Sunday. Baltimore Ravens: Because rookie running back ; Jay Graham's tender left an-' kle is still hurting him, coach Ted Marchibroda will start " Bam Morris Sunday against : visiting Seattle. "We're probably going to : go with Bam and Earnest . (Byner) all the way," Mar-" chibroda said. Graham, who has started . -. the last three games, injured ; his ankle Nov. 16, then re- injured it on Thursday. He probably will play sparingly Sunday, if at all. Green Bay Packers: ' Construction plans for Lam-; , beau Field in 1999 include expanding from 60,790 to 68,000 seats, team President '- , Bob Harlan said. ; , The team may ask the ; state to help pay the ex-; pense, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. Indianapolis Colts: The widow of Colts owner ' , Robert Irsay agreed to a set-: tlement in her $13 million ' suit against the team and the , executors of her husband's ; estate, including his son, Jim - Irsay. Terms of the settle- ment were not disclosed. BNew York Giants: Both General Manager - George Young and the NFL say there is no firm commit- ! ment for him to become the ; league's director of football operations. Young and the NFL refused to confirm comments , by co-owner Bob Tisch in Friday's editions of the As-bury Park Press that said Young planned to step down , after this season, and that he : would be replaced by assistant general manager Ernie, Accorsi. B New York Jets: Quarterback Glenn Foley might be lost for the remainder of the season while he rehabilitates his left knee, a team source said. Foley still has pain and a lack of stability in a leg hob-. bled by two torn ligaments. Starting QB Neil O'Don-nell, despite a disturbing string of ineffective performances, will start Sunday : against Indianapolis. B St. Louis Rams: Defensive coordinator Bud Carson, 66, had his gall bladder . removed Thursday, the Rams said. m INTIMACIES Private Modeling r I 3a BodvShamooos U ht 684-9343 TBrfl"i 2424 N. Congress Ave. I Nock North of Bf l fdrrt Across frnm thf Do; Tract i Airport PRIVATE j MODELING tLZ 478-1595 Wt ( cMw Blvd. Jxttt fcai of itw Turnoikc t xii W Ml Turnpike Shtrppin rnm (Rrrwern Tfwo & t rwvmnt Crystal's mrmr-wr i i 1. IT I r , AAA Adult viaeo T PCT 117 i 4 Karim Abdul-Jabbar says he won't be distracted by his new competiton, who is likely to play Sunday. By Ethan J. Skolnick Palm Beach Post Staff Writer DAVIE Jimmy Johnson named his first four of eight inactives Friday. Lawrence Phillips was not among them. Long snapper Frank Wain-right is nursing an abdominal strain. Special teamer Jim Kitts has a sore groin. Offensive tackle Brent Smith has "come a million miles," according to Johnson, but Smith must be on a NASA voyage. Ray Nealy's position, running back, is as crowded as Starbucks on a frosty Seattle morning. Phillips? It appears he will play. The Dolphins have designed some "cutdown packages," tailored for a player with a limited grasp of the playbook. "He really, really improved from day one to day two," Johnson said. Day three was Friday, when the Dolphins with more significant roles spent practice polishing. Karim Abdul-Jabbar has one of those roles. He has 14 rushing touchdowns, 613 more yards than Phillips over the last two seasons, and a clean criminal record. And now, of course, he has competition. From his "best friend," which is how Phillips' agent described the relationship between his client and Abdul-Jabbar. Best friends? Not exactly. Abdul-Jabbar said they "just met" at the combine in Indianapolis. He maintains he will not let Phillips' entrance affect him. Phillips' locker is with the wide receivers, not the running backs. "You let it distract you or you don't," said Abdul-Jabbar, explaining how he's had to face tough competition all season. "If they (people who assume Phillips will take his job) knew how good Bernie Parmalee was, or Irving Spikes was, or Ray Nealy was ..." Abdul-Jabbar noted how Tiki Barber and Tyrone Wheat-ley are coexisting in the New York Giants' backfield, as Corey Dillon and Ki-Jana Carter are in the Cincinnati Bengals' back-field. "Coach Johnson is constantly trying to improve the team and he's building," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I don't need that (Phillips' signing) to motivate me. But he understands that Phillips is there, waiting. They had a friendly conversation this week, during which Phillips told f Showgirls orar Uance specials lt V A. V JL X 1UU1 Midnight Madness Every Tues. & Thurs. Open: Mon.-Wed. 2pm-Zam Thur. -Fri. 2pm-3am Sat. 3pm-3am s. Sun. 3pm-2am J ; mm Abdul-Jabbar he was happy to be out of the cold. Phillips related how coach Tom Osborne wouldn't let him wear sleeves at Nebraska, no matter how cold it was. "But he had 12 guys behind him, ready to play," Abdul-Jabbar said. "So he went without sleeves." B Game-time decisions: Wide receiver Charles Jordan-who, has a strained abdominal muscle and a sore toe, should be able to play Sunday, but just in case, Johnson held off naming Brian Manning or Qadry Ismail inactive. Linebacker Mike Crawford and quarterback Damon Huard will also probably be inactive, thereby clearing space for Lawrence Phillips. Irving Spikes will be active, to help on special teams, with Kitts, Wainright and Bracey Walker injured. Strong safety Shawn Wooden and cornerback Sam Madison will play, but both are hobbled, so the secondary is unsettled. Johnson is pleased with Corey Harris, so he will start at strong safety if Wooden can't. If Madison doesn't start, Calvin Jackson would return to. right cornerback, and Harris would start at free safety. If both Madison and Wooden are held out, Harris and George Teague would start at safety, with Jackson joining Terrell Buckley at cornerback. "He (Harris) had a tough transition," Johnson said of the former cornerback signed to play free safety, then lost his starting job after six weeks. "Some make the transition in a hurry, some don't. We weren't making a lot of plays, so we needed to make a change. To Corey's credit, he jumped in on special teams and has been absolutely outstanding." B Bright side: Johnson likes young players because they get better as the season goes on. But for rookies, accustomed to playing 11 or 12 college games, the seemingly endless NFL campaign can drag. Derrick Rodgers felt a bit worn down a few weeks ago. Then he received a break, or rather, a strain. "The (knee) injury was the best thing that happened to me," Rodgers said. "I had a new appreciation for playing." BBowens' status pending: The Dolphins would like to extend the contract of defensive tackle Tim Bowens, as well as that of Wooden and quarterback Craig Erickson. The contracts of all three expire after the season. The Dolphins will wait until after the season to begin serious negotiations. BODY WORKS PRIVATE SUITES 99 863-7337 5 111 iNorthlake Blvd. s I block east of Prosperity Farms Rd, NPB 1,000'sto GIANT If VIDEO VIDEO RENTALS Choose from The Palm Beach County Sports Institute will announce the winner of the Lou Groza Place-Kicker Award on Tuesday. Finalists are: B Sims Lenhardt: The sophomore from Duke is 16-of-20 in field goals with a long of 50 yards. He has scored 70 points and is 22-of-22 in PATs. B Martin Gramatica: The Kansas State junior is 19-of-20 in field goals, with a long of 55 game. Auburn coach Terry Bow-den knows a victory over Tennessee would put his father, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, back into the national championship hunt. If Auburn beats Tennessee, the Seminoles likely would play in the Orange Bowl. "Terry knows if he loves me at all, he'll make it happen," Bobby Bowden said. There may be one other thing on the line tonight: The Heisman Trophy. Manning, considered the front-runner all season, has seen Michigan's Charles Woodson make a major move for the award in the past month while his own stock has slid. With the Heisman voting deadline Thursday, Manning can regain some late support. Fulmer said it would be "a tremendous injustice" if Manning doesn't win the Heisman, but both know that's not the main prize. "There's nothing we can do about (the Florida loss) this week," Fulmer said. 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