Originally created 09/22/00

SEC Notebook



Listening to Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and Florida coach Steve Spurrier talk, you might have trouble believing Spurrier's Gators left Knoxville, Tenn., with a 27-23 win over Fulmer's Volunteers last week.

Spurrier has fumed that his team showed little discipline in a game he said Tennessee should have won. The Gators' 11th-year coach has placed quarterback Jesse Palmer off limits to the media, saying his senior quarterback "didn't need to be bombarded with a bunch of praise" before the Gators play host to Kentucky on Saturday (3:30 p.m., CBS).

Fulmer said his team gained a moral victory from what appeared a mortal defeat.

"It was encouraging to be able to stop the run and also to be able to run pretty well and protect our quarterback," said Fulmer, whose team plays host to Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday at 4 p.m. "I have to give the offensive staff and the defensive staff, as well as the players, that credit. ... That was pleasing, to be able to do that against a really good team like Florida."

FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND: South Carolina was wracked by attrition of comical proportions during its 0-11 disaster in 1999, but the Gamecocks have stayed mostly healthy this season.

Coach Lou Holtz, whose team is off to a surprising 3-0 start, attributes the lack of serious ailments to improved fundamentals and a better attitude.

"We're better fundamentally," said Holtz, whose team plays host to No. 25 Mississippi State on Saturday (12:30 p.m., CBS). "We're a little bit stronger, we roll our hips a little bit more. ... I've always said it. We're going to have some injuries; they're going to occur. I've been pleased with the way the players are playing with some pain."

ENEMY TERRITORY: New Mexico State coach Tony Samuel said his team learned plenty from playing in front of more than 80,000 fans during its 31-0 loss at South Carolina on Sept. 2.

The Aggies (0-2) will be confronted with a similar setting Saturday at Georgia (1 p.m., pay-per-view).

"Initially, the kids handled it well," Samuel said. "But then we were dealing with a few guys, junior college kids, and a couple of high school kids, that have never played at this level before, and I felt it affected them."

WOUNDED TIDE: A week after absorbing a shattering 21-0 loss to Southern Mississippi, Alabama will play Arkansas with hopes of turning around a season that appears headed south.

Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt has seen all this before. Last year, Alabama played host to Arkansas the week after suffering an embarrassing loss to Louisiana Tech. The Tide regrouped, won that game and went on to claim the SEC title.

"This time last year, we were asked the same question, so I'm not into all that," Nutt said. "This time last year, everybody said they were going to fold up, and they went out and won the SEC Championship."

EXTRA POINTS: This week's conference slate is devoid of high-profile matchups, so the Mississippi State-South Carolina game likely is Saturday's marquee tilt. The only other intra-conference matchups are Kentucky at Florida and Alabama at Arkansas (9 p.m., ESPN2). ... Auburn will be looking to start 4-0 for the first time since 1997. ... Eleven of Kentucky's starters are either freshmen or sophomores. ... Rohan Davey's recurring bout with tendinitis has allowed Josh Booty to separate himself as Louisiana State's starting quarterback. ... The Razorbacks are 15-0 when at home under Nutt.

Reach SUBHEAD:Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or larrywill7@yahoo.com