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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Final: Auburn 52, Arkansas State 26

Auburn doubled up Arkansas State tonight, 52-26. Here's how tomorrow's game story starts:
AUBURN, Ala. — Cam Newton's long-awaited return to the Southeastern Conference couldn't have gone much better.

Newton, who hadn't played in an SEC game since the 2008 opener for Florida, dabbled in a bit of everything in his unveiling Saturday night as No. 22 Auburn beat Arkansas State 52-26 in the season opener.

The junior college transfer dazzled a Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd of 83,441 with a big, accurate arm and nimble feet, accounting for 357 total yards and five touchdowns — three in the air and two on the ground.

"Being his first football game, I couldn't be prouder of what he did," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said.

Newton showed all the abilities that made him the top-ranked junior college quarterback recruit last year, completing 9 of 14 passes for 186 yards and running 15 times for 171 more. He broke the school's 36-year-old single-game quarterback rushing record of 160, set by Phil Gargis against Georgia in 1974.

"He was a little bit more mobile this game than I've ever seen," Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes said. "You get him in practice, they blow the whistle real fast. To finally see them not blow the whistle and let him run, I think it was amazing today."
Read the whole thing here. We'll wrap up some other stuff bullet point style:
  • What's the deal with Craig Stevens and Jonathon Mincy, you ask? They're suspended, although Chizik wouldn't just come out and say as much. "As I've said many times, we hold our guys to a certain standard of excellence," Chizik said. "And that's on the field, that's off the field. And if they're not living up to that certain standard right now, then I've got tough decisions that I have to make. ... As I said last year and I've said many times, as long as those guys are wearing the Auburn uniform, they're doing right. And if you see him again and he's dressed out in an Auburn uniform, he will have proved to us that he's lived up to our standards."
  • If this sounds familiar, it's because he used the same line for Eric Smith and Byron Isom last year as well.
  • No word on how long either will be out or whether they will be allowed to practice, although using last season's suspensions as a barometer. Smith missed one game. Isom missed two.
  • Newton's 71-yard TD run in the third quarter? It was a busted play. "Onterio (McCalebb) was teasing me about it," Newton said, "saying 'I would have taken it for 71 yards.'"
  • Not the best night for the defense in certain spots. Arkansas State gained 366 yards, 323 of which came through the air. Quarterback Ryan Aplin completed 28 of 42 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown. "It was a little bit difficult with a new offensive coordinator, trying to figure out what he did at a different school versus what he would do now with different types of personnel," Chizik said. "That became a little challenging."
  • There were some bright spots, though. Auburn held Arkansas State to 43 rushing yards on 35 carries. The Tigers had four sacks and limited the Red Wolves to 5-for-19 on third downs. "Today was the first game, and I'm not going to say it was first-game jitters," Bynes said, "but all I can say is we have some things we need to work on."
  • Aairon Savage looked like he enjoyed being back on the field after missing two years with injuries. He had five of his seven tackles in the first quarter. "Every time he came off, I was like, 'Dang boy, you're around the ball,'" fellow safety Zac Etheridge said. "And he was just being Aairon like he was when he left. He ain't lost a step."
  • The Tigers' leading tackler? Daren Bates with 10, seven of which were solo. That's a good sign for someone playing his first game at outside linebacker.
  • Didn't notice this until now but I probably should have: DE Antoine "Hot" Carter had 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Not a bad AC impersonation there.
  • DT Nick Fairley added 1.5 sacks. Auburn had 10 TFLs on the night.
  • Auburn's 608 yards were more than it had in every game last year except for Furman. "Coach Malzahn always tell us, when they try to stop something, do something different," wide receiver Darvin Adams said. "I think the coaches did a great job of calling the plays tonight."
  • Weird split for the running backs. Michael Dyer had 14 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown. McCalebb had nine carries for 76 yards. Meanwhile, supposed No. 1 back Mario Fannin had only three carries for 14 yards.
  • During one five-minute span in the third quarter, Auburn fumbled three times. One was overturned by replay. Not what Chizik liked to see. "When you go into league play, we are not good enough to beat anybody doing that," he said.
  • Quindarius Carr had a nice opener, catching two long passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. He also returned five punts for 47 yards, not dropping a single one. "I have not bought stock in him yet, but I am going to tell you it has gone up," Chizik said, misusing a stock market analogy. "I think he is growing up, and I think he is becoming a better football player."
  • Your true freshman count? 12 — Dyer, HB Shaun Kitchens, WR Antonio Goodwin, DT Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter, DE Corey Lemonier and Craig Sanders, LB Jessel Curry, S Demetruce McNeal and Ryan Smith, CB Chris Davis and PK Cody Parkey.
  • No Trovon Reed (bruised kneecap), although he was dressed and looked like he could have gone if Auburn needed him.
  • We'll end things with a Chizik quote: "I think you enjoy tonight. No question, wins are hard to come by. You are going to look up at some scores tonight from some people and be shocked for sure of teams that you would think arguably would beat somebody and didn't. Every win is great. Every win is hard, but they do not have to be satisfied with the way that we won. Everybody ought to be happy that we won, but I don't think there is anybody in our locker room that was satisfied with how we won because everybody knows there is so much room for improvement. I think that is fair."


SteveFC said...

Thanks for the late night info, Andy. Yes, it is great to win, but there was a lot to be concerned about in this when. Our starting tailback being outrushed by Cooper? That is just bizarre. I am wondering if Fannin is injured, but he was still out there catching balls.

Eric said...

I am impressed wuth the offensive firepower. I just wish we had more playmakers on defense. You can not outscore people and win the SEC. The team with the best defense usually wins the league and it didn't look like us tonight. WDE

Anonymous said...

The defense will get better. Ark State was an unknown on Offense with a new OC. Our D has nowhere to go but UP.

MikeP said...

I'm not at all surprised by the running back situation. It will fall on O-Mac and Dyer to tote the load at RB this year. Fannin is much better suited to the H-back role. Fannin is a good receiver and trick-play guy. As an every down RB, not so much.