KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Auburn junior Bart Eddins made his first career start at right guard Saturday night against Tennessee, filling in for Byron Isom, who missed his second straight game because of a team-imposed suspension.
The 6-foot-4, 297-pound Eddins played sparingly as a backup in each of the Tigers’ first four games but got the nod over true freshman John Sullen, who started in Isom’s place against Ball State last week. Eddins had played in 19 career games before Saturday’s start.
He made an effective block on Auburn’s second drive, pulling to his left and picking up a Tennessee blitzer from the outside. The block sprung running back Ben Tate for a 9-yard run up the middle, helping set up a Wes Byrum field goal that gave the Tigers an early 3-0 lead.
Isom was not on the sideline. Coach Gene Chizik indefinitely suspended him before last week’s game, although the junior has been allowed to practice with the team.
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PPL back in uniform
Wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis dressed and played for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in last year’s opener.
Pierre-Louis arrived late to preseason training camp after clearing up what coaches termed “personal issues.” He returned to the team in late August, but Chizik did not allow him to dress in uniform until Saturday.
The redshirt freshman got into the game near the end of the first quarter to return Tennessee’s second punt, coming in for freshman Anthony Gulley. It fell short, and he did not get a chance.
He had three more opportunities in the first half, successfully making a fair catch on two punts before returning a third for 2 yards. He returned his first punt of the third quarter for 7 yards.
Man briefly down
Cornerback Walt McFadden went down with an injury to his right leg after tackling Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty near the end of the first quarter.
The senior starter limped off the field with the help of a few trainers before being tended to on the sideline. He tested the ankle during the second quarter on the sideline, bouncing on it and riding a stationary bike.
Junior college transfer Demond Washington, the Tigers’ nickelback, replaced him in Auburn’s base defense, although McFadden returned just before halftime, breaking up a pass near the Auburn sideline.
Byrum’s streak ends
Byrum made his first two field goals Saturday, connecting from 29 and 43 yards in the first quarter to put Auburn ahead 6-0.
That made him 8-for-8 on field goals this season and moved him into sole possession of sixth place on the Tigers’ all-time field goal list with 36.
He missed just before halftime, however. Leading 13-0, Auburn advanced as far as the Tennessee 21-yard line before losing 9 yards on an errant third-down option pitch.
It pushed Byrum’s attempt back to 46 yards, and the junior missed it wide right. It was his first miss since misfiring on a 42-yard field goal against Georgia last November.
Tennessee took advantage, turning around and going 70 yards in seven plays before Hardesty scored on a 1-yard run to cut Auburn’s halftime advantage to 13-7.
Tate passed Stacy Danley (1987-90) for eighth on Auburn’s all-time rushing list with 89 yards in the first half. It gave Tate 2,460 career rushing yards. … Walk-on wide receiver Jay Wisner got his first career start. The junior had one catch in the first half for 16 yards. … Several walk-ons made the trip to Knoxville, including OL Andrew Parmer, OL Jorell Bostrom, FB Jason King, DE Chris Humphries, LB Ashton Richardson, DB Ikeem Means, LB Wade Christopher, LS Josh Harris, RB David Hooper and Wisner. … Injured quarterback Barrett Trotter also made the trip to help relay signals from the sideline. Trotter tore his ACL last spring but was in uniform. … Saturday’s announced attendance at Neyland Stadium was 102,941, the third largest crowd Auburn has played in front of and the largest since the 2004 game at Tennessee.