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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cam Newton for Heisman? Gene Chizik thinks the QB's numbers grab people's attention

Cam Newton's Heisman candidacy was brought up during today's teleconference with Auburn coach Gene Chizik. Surprisingly, Chizik didn't dodge the question.

"I’m not going to act like I’m an expert on that, but I think his numbers certainly grab people’s attention," Chizik said. "In that regard, I don’t know where they’ll go with that, but I think he’s played really well."

Newton has put up Heisman-worthy stats in leading the No. 10 Tigers to a 4-0 start. He leads the SEC and is 11th nationally, averaging 121.3 rushing yards per game.

As a passer, the junior is second nationally in passing efficiency (182.5) and is the first quarterback in Auburn history to throw for at least two touchdowns in each of his first four games.

Newton, who is second in the SEC in total offense (292.0 ypg) has accounted for 14 touchdowns this year (9 passing, 5 rushing).

"He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do," Chizik said. "And the people who make that decision won’t be me. But he’s played really well."

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Here are some extended notes and quotes from Chizik's teleconference:
  • What Chizik saw on film: “I saw a team again that’s very resilient and they fight and they just keep pressing on and they find a way to win. But I also see so many glaring things that just don’t allow us to be a great team right now."
  • RT Brandon Mosley had a hit-or-miss night in place of an injured A.J. Greene, guilty of three different penalties. But considering the situation, Chizik thought he did well. "I thought he tried to play physical up front as one of the five starters, and I’m just really proud of him," Chizik said. "I just feel that he’s been thrown in the fire a few times now and he comes through for our team. I’m really proud of him."
  • TE Philip Lutzenkirchen caught his first three passes of the year, one of which went for a touchdowns. "He’s another guy that’s working on beating some other guys out," Chizik said. "Whether he’s a hand-on-the-ground tight end, or what we call a 3-back in our offense, he’s being very productive. I think he’s earned that right."
  • Chizik tried to explain why the team keeps getting off to slow starts: "It was the whole defense. It was guys being out of position or their eyes weren't in the right spot. Quarterback scrambles where the guy lost containment and he bought another 2½ seconds to throw the ball. There was glaring things all over the defense in my opinion."
  • Another question about Newton protecting himself. Chizik seemed not too concerned. "He's a threat," he said. "And we've got to use him as a threat. We're just learning more as we go each week what we can and can't do with him. It's obvious that he's a threat in the backfield and that people are going to have to respect that. That'll be part of our plan."
  • It looked like Auburn ran a similar zone read running play to get a large chunk of its yardage. Chizik said the Tigers have many variations of a similar play, though, which makes it difficult to defend. "We do it out of many different things," he said. "We do it off of the fly sweep, you know, the jet sweep right there. We do it off of just a conventional set. It's not always just the zone read, it's the power, it's the downhill power play with double teams and pullers and things of that nature, where he now has a lead blocker to bring him up through the seams in the defense. Just schematically, there's a lot of moving parts to that. It's not just well, they'll be in this formation, we'll run it from this. It's different formations and different ways to do it. The way you see it one week, may not be the way you see it the next week."
  • In case you didn't see this note before: freshman Demetruce McNeal made four solo tackles on kickoff. "We can keep preaching to those guys how much of an impact they're having on our football team," Chizik said. "Because now all of our starting linebackers don't have to cover kickoffs or necessarily cover every punt."
  • Auburn was 4-0 at this point last year, but Chizik sees something different about this year's group. "Just trying to really figure out the dynamic of the team, one of the things that stands out for me is on the sidelines, you don't see the panic," he said. "You don't see the body language change. And of course that's something that we preach to them every day for the week and a half or whatever that we've been here. ... That's been encouraging, in my opinion. So, is it much different than last year? I don't know if I can say that. I just know that we were willing to fight and don't look at the scoreboard and keep playing to the end of the game."
  • RB Mario Fannin didn't get another carry after his first-quarter fumble. Chizik continues to say it doesn't mean anything. "Again, don't read anything into it at all," Chizik said. "We just went with offensively what was working. And Michael was running the ball inside for some tough yards. Onterio was doing what he needed to do on the perimeter. So again, as the games unfold, we've got to kind of see who's in rhythm and who's really executing the offense the best. And those are the guys we're going to go with."
  • Chizik was quick to point out that Fannin was not the only running back to fumble. Mike Dyer had one, as did Eric Smith. "Mario’s not the only who’s fumbled the last two weeks," Chizik said. "Ball security issues are all over the place with us right now. I don’t think that would be an excuse, no. He’s got to hold onto the ball."
  • Dyer got 23 carries for 100 yards and looks like he'll be the go-to guy in the backfield. Here's Chizik's take: "I thought he ran with a low pad level. I think he’s starting to see some more cuts, where I thought earlier in the season he’s thinking protect the football, put my head down, make tough yards, which at times didn’t allow him to use his vision that he did in high school. He’s got really good vision, and I think he’s getting more comfortable being able to see those things, combined with the fact that he had 20-odd opportunities to do it. I think you’ve got to get tailbacks in those grooves to get that vision and get that feel for the game, and where the holes are going to be and seeing opportunities to cut the ball back and things of that nature. He rushed between the tackles for some tough yards and that was good to see."
  • Chizik liked Mike Blanc's performance (7 tackles, 1 FR). Also the work Zach Clayton (2 tackles, 1 TFL) has done. "Zach Clayton is an unheralded guy that every week, boy, he’s just ... I think he’s playing well, I really do," Chizik said. "He’s found a home at nose guard and is playing really well right now."


JoeinFP said...

Any update on John Sullen? Understand he was hurt and could not go last night.

Also Eguae got the start infront of Goggans but Lemonier saw a lot of action. Was Lemonier in for Eguae or giving Carter a blow?

Andy Bitter said...

Not sure on Sullen. He wasn't brought up.

Lemonier backs up Carter at the rush end. I think Carter came out with a minor injury for part of the first half.

Clint Richardson said...

AC came out for about a quarter with a sholder/neck injury. Probably just a little stinker.

postermom said...

I loved it at the end when Cam spiked the ball to run out the clock, then hugged the official standing next to him. Wonder what the official thought/said? And I hope we can keep on being lucky until we get to be great. And then I hope we're still lucky.

Anonymous said...

Mincy was suspended at the beginning of the year, and I haven't heard anything about it since. Is he still with the team?

Andy Bitter said...

He's been seen around the complex by other media members. Still suspended, apparently. Chizik is not exactly forthcoming with information.