Simmons vs. Peppers?

Kendall Simmons

ATLANTA, GA -- The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is interesting for many reasons, not the least of which is the match-up between two of the most dominant linemen in college football.

Julius Peppers, defensive lineman for the Tar Heels, will test his mettle against one of the premier offensive linemen in the country, Auburn Tiger Kendall Simmons. It is one of the type of match-ups that sometimes give way to brash talk.

Not so with this one. At today's press conference, both men were low-key about the prospect of meeting on the field.

"When I first heard we were playing North Carolina I was excited.," said Simmons, " I'm excited about playing him." Both athletes declined to provide the other team with "bulletin board" material.

"I just hope I can touch him a couple of times," said Simmons. To that remark, Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville deadpanned, "Jason Campbell [Auburn's quarterback], will be glad to hear that."

Peppers, the Lombardi Trophy and Bednarick Award winner, was equally disinclined to rush into a war of words. "It is our defense against their offense. From what I have seen on tape and what I have heard about him, he's a good player, but I am ready for the challenge, we will see what happens on game day."

Simmons, the Jacob Trophy winner [awarded to the SEC's top offensive lineman], will undoubtedly pose a challenge for the All-American Peppers. Simmons has the skills to give any defensive lineman trouble.

Tuberville said, "He is an excellent athlete.." Tuberville went as far to say that Simmons could outrun most of his teammates, and could even play fullback. Seated next to Tuberville, Simmons shook his head in disagreement.

Since neither player gave up much in terms of what to expect when they go head-to-head, what should fans look for on New Year's Eve?

First, look for UNC defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta to move Peppers around more than was the case in the later part of the season. Peppers [19 tackles-for-loss, 9.5 sacks, 3 INT's], may have more room to operate when flopped to the other side of the defense.

Head-to-head? How ever it turns out, it should be an awesome matchup when Peppers and Simmons do square off against each other. Simmons, 6-3, 315 pounds, has excellent footwork and athleticism. Peppers, 6-6, 285, is also an awesome athlete. It should be one for the ages.

Other Notes

  • With Bosley Allen suspended for the game, Carolina head coach John Bunting indicated that Sam Aiken, Michael Waddell, and Kory Bailey would return punts.
  • Coach Tuberville is still hopeful that Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, will be able to play on Monday night. Williams has been practicing in a limited fashion, but clearance to play will have to come from the medical staff at Auburn.
  • Coach Bunting indicated that if either quarterback, Darian Durant or Ronald Curry, has a hot hand, he would stay with that quarterback.
  • Offensive Coordinator Gary Tranquill did not attend practice yesterday, because the medical staff is cautious about exposing him to the cool weather in Atlanta. Whether or not he will be in the coaching box on Monday night is still undecided, but more likely than not. Bunting said he had a plan in place for either contingency.
  • Coach Bunting, though he suspended wide receiver Bosley Allen for the Peach Bowl, apparently has not soured on the junior wide receiver. "I love the kid," said Bunting, "He is a great kid."
  • In Allen's absence, Bunting said that junior Chesley Borders, sophomore Brandon Russell, and senor Danny Davis would have to step up.
  • Coach Bunting says -- in regards to Peppers' preparation for the NFL Draft -- one day Julius will play basketball first and the next day he says he will not.
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