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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Late night notes: Newton's off-balance pass to Burns one to add to his highlight reel

Quarterback Cam Newton made a number of spectacular plays in Auburn’s 37-34 win against Kentucky on Saturday night, but none were as unique as the 33-yard pass he completed to Kodi Burns while falling out of bounds.

Kentucky forced Newton out of the pocket to his right in the second quarter. As the 6-foot-6, 250-pound junior neared the sideline, he dipped his shoulder and, a at a 45-degree angle, launched a pass downfield before falling out of bounds..

Burns darted across the field to make a sliding tackle on the rope of a pass to the Kentucky 9. It was his first catch this season.

What was offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn’s reaction?

“He said that was a wild play,” Newton said. “He paused (the film) when I was releasing the ball and I looked at my body, how it was contorted in this awkward position. I don’t know what to say.

“I’m just a blessed individual and God has continued to use me, and that’s it.”

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Here are some more post-practice notes and quotes:
  • If freshman RB Mike Dyer had a Heisman vote, he'd surely give it to Newton. "When Cam does what Cam does, it’s just like…sometimes you don’t expect a quarterback to lower a shoulder, break away and to have speed the way he does, and his vision," he said. "I went up to him after one run and said, 'It’s great to have a Heisman winner on the team.’ He really does bring a special thing to this team."
  • Dyer went on: "It’s never done until he gets done with the play. He’s one of those guys that you’re lucky to have on a team. A person like him, it’s very rare, because all of the hype, he stays humble. He never says, 'I’m this’ or 'I’m that.’ He just goes out and plays the game. He stays the same person every time. Some people’s character changes, and what they do change, or their practice changes, but Cam Newton is the same. 'This is who I am. I’ve followed you guys. I love you guys.’ We’re lucky to have him on our team."
  • After some brief research, I've found out Dyer does not have a Heisman vote.. Yours truly does, though. And Newton is certainly someone I'm keeping an eye on. That said, nobody wins the Heisman until he has big performances in big games. For Newton, those games are still upcoming.
  • Newton gave his regular answer to the Heisman hoopla, dismissing it as just that. "I can't just say that I'm going to embrace the Heisman talk because I really don't like me being singled out in front of everybody," he said. "As far as this team, we have some warriors on this team that I would be willing to die for. ... For me to just say, 'I'm just going to be selfish this week,' or be selfish this day and say, 'I'm the Heisman,' or I'm being noticed as the Heisman Trophy winner, that's not fair to everybody else that's doing the same thing that I'm doing and not getting credit for it."
  • Zen Master Cam on life right now. "Too blessed to be stressed," he said, walking into the interview room. Later, he talked about looking ahead. "You have to take small steps, because if you start trying to skip, you can fall." He could write fortune cookies with that kind of material.
  • Dyer is from Arkansas (Little Rock, to be specific). The Razorbacks were among his final two college choices. Plus, he has a bunch of friends who went to Arkansas. Naturally, this is a big week for him. "It’s a big game, but you play normal," he said. "It’s always fun to play against someone that you know, and it’s 'I grew up with him.’ It’s one of those games, 'I’m going to play my hometown.’"
  • Who does he know on Arkansas? "Probably the whole team," he said. "I grew up with most of the guys and played against them in high school."
  • Remember how disgusted Newton was watching film of last year's Kentucky game? Arkansas breakdown wasn't much better. "I can honestly say that this game tops us being embarrassed as an offense," he said. "There was just countless times that you look and see people doing their own things. Miscues and blown assignments that I know the coaches didn't go over it. You can't just point to the coaches because sooner or later the players are going to have to take responsibility. I think this team is realizing what we're capable of doing and realizing that if everybody is doing their job, then success is in the future."
  • Simple explanation for Auburn's second-half woes. "We let up and kind of took our foot off the gas somewhat," Newton said. "With any team in this league, as soon as you let up a little bit that gives them the momentum to drive forward. It doesn't matter if you're up by 31 points or down by 31 points. You've got to finish the game."
  • Auburn has played its share of close games, with Mississippi State, Clemson, South Carolina and now Kentucky coming down to the wire. "It’s actually fun," Dyer said. "To fight with your team to the end, and the celebration at the end, makes the game worth it. The coaches are probably tired of it, but at the end, we’re all satisfied with the way it turns out."
  • An unlikely character made his voice heard in the huddle prior to Auburn's 19-play, 86-yard scoring drive to finish the game: LT Lee Ziemba. The senior called the whole offense together. "(He) just mentioned that this is the game right now," Newton said. "Everybody needs to be accountable for what their assignment is, whether it's blocking or running the defender off. It can be the small thing that can become very major. He was the person that jump-started the offense in my opinion."
  • Lots of Wes Byrum stuff tonight. I plan to write a story on him for Tuesday's paper, so I'll save most of it. We did ask him why he didn't celebrate too much after drilling the game-winning kick from 24 yards. "I expect myself to make that one every time," he said. "That was short. I mean, it was a little bit farther than an extra point. So for a kick like that, the offense did such a good job of getting the ball down there and everything, that's an easy field goal."
  • One more thing from Byrum, who gave way to Cody Parkey on kickoffs. Byrum gave a glimpse into what goes through a kicker's mind on kickoffs, though. "It’s different because it’s a violent motion, but it’s got to be controlled," he said. "You have to try and put everything you can into the ball but you have to hold back a little bit because it has to be controlled enough that… you have to control your body and everything because you might hit it wrong. When you’re running 10 steps, it’s kind of hard to hit the same thing every time. Just your swing in general. It’s hard to stay consistent."
  • Let's jump to the defensive side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof gave an extremely long assessment of the defense. He started with the negatives: not being able to stop Randall Cobb out of the Wildcat and the penalties that made life easier for Kentucky. "If that didn't happen, it's a completely different ballgame from our perspective," he said.
  • Although Auburn gave up some yards, Roof thought the unit did well to hold the Wildcats to a field goal late. "I thought our guys really bowed their backs there at that last drive to force a field goal," he said. "That was a hostile crowd, the crowd was charged up, the team was charged up, to find a way to get that done."
  • What to eliminate? Yards after the catch, especially on underneath routes. He said Arkansas runs similar routes to Kentucky when it throws underneath.
  • Roof had good things to say about Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, who leas the league in total offense and passing: "He makes plays against everybody. He's mobile enough to avoid the first rusher. He's got a big-league arm and he has some big-league receivers that can make big plays at any point in the game and anywhere on the field. The discipline in the coverage and the discipline in the pursuit angles as far as tracking the football and the ability to put some pressure on him and disguise what we're doing a little bit is going to be critical this week."
  • Auburn has given up a lot of yards on short passes but has generally prevented the big play. "It’s very important," cornerback T'Sharvan Bell. "Last year we went back and seen the games that we lost — LSU, Arkansas — we gave up a lot of big plays. And if we don’t give up those big plays, we don’t get beat the way we do and it becomes a real close game. The big plays are something the coaches are going to emphasize a lot on and we’re very aware of. We’re just going to try to limit the big plays the best we can.”
  • Still, the Tigers have given up a LOT of yardage on underneath stuff. Asked if he was OK with that, Roof asked what the questioner meant by OK? He then gave a lot of jargon to describe how it's OK in certain situations. This part is understandable. "There are strengths and weaknesses with every call," he said. "When we're in snug-down man coverage, it's not acceptable for your man to catch the ball. When you're in zone coverage and you're dropping back in zone and you're in zone integrity and 10-12 yards of depth and they throw a two-yard pass, the yards after contact becomes critical. ... It's different by different calls. We have to continue to mix it up."
  • Asked if LB Eltoro Freeman will play, Roof answered, "I don't talk about injuries." When the reporter who asked the question pointed out that he didn't say anything about injuries, Roof said, "I don't prognosticate."

7 comments:

scottie burns said...

'like'

Tar Heel Tiger said...

That's a boatload of information, AB. I like information.

Clint Richardson said...

Great job as always AB.

What are we in the turnover rate? I think we've done a decent enough job to get somewhere around -1,0,+1, but I lost count a while ago.

Andy Bitter said...

It's +1 now, tied for fifth in the SEC. 11 takeaways, 10 giveaways. About 42 near-giveaways.

Orlando said...

You won't vote Cam for Heisman?

BLASPHEMY!
haha great job AB! Keep it up!
How does it feel week in, week out covering the best team in the nation and receiving praise from your peers for a wonderful job?

Sullivan013 said...

re: Heisman talk

Consider this: In their Heisman seasons, Pat Sullivan passed for 20 touchdowns and Bo Jackson ran for 17.

At the halfway point of the regular season, Cam has 12 through the air (on pace to hit 24) and 9 on the ground (on pace to hit 18).

I hear what you're saying about the big games, but the above is worth more than just 'keeping an eye on.' IMHIO (In my humble Irish opinion), it is Cam's to lose.

Andy Bitter said...

You can't really compare Sullivan's and Jackson's Heisman numbers to Newton's, because offensive numbers (especially passing) have been inflated since those days.

But yes, Newton is a very worthy Heisman candidate. It's just impossible for someone to win the award at the season's midway point.

How'd that work out for Michigan's Denard Robinson last week?