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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pre-practice notes: Chizik thinks Cam Newton's stats warrant Heisman consideration

Auburn cranked up its Cam Newton-for-Heisman campaign last week, having the quarterback do a national teleconference and launching a website for the star player.

Head coach Gene Chizik thinks the best thing he and his coaches can do to help Newton win the Heisman is to continue to do what they've been doing.

"At the end of the day, it is a team award and the best thing we can do to promote any of our guys for any of our postseason awards is to continue to try to coach them to give them a plan every week to win," he said.

Newton made a strong push for Heisman consideration after running for a career-high 217 yards in a 24-17 win against No. 6 LSU on Saturday.

He leads the SEC in rushing with 1,077 yards and leads the nation with 14 rushing touchdowns and 27 touchdowns accounted for.

"In my opinion, a player's statistics and all the things that go into him warranting that attention, I think that's out there for everybody to see," Chizik said. "Do we have a guy that warrants that? Absolutely. There's no question about it."

Chizik said it will be important to manage Newton's time as his media demands are likely to increase in the upcoming weeks.

"If you talk about postseason awards and you talk about recognition and things of that nature, that's only going to come with him being able to focus on being a football player," Chizik said. "At the end of the day, he's got to do the things that are going to help him be the quarterback at Auburn."

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Some other notes and quotes from Chizik's teleconference:
  • DT Nick Fairley is going to start getting some national award recognition the way he's playing. The junior had 3.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks Saturday. He has 7.5 sacks and 17 TFL this year (second and third in the SEC, respectively). "I think the numbers speak for themselves," Chizik said. "Anybody that watched the game yesterday would have a hard time denying the fact that he's one of the best defensive linemen in the country."
  • Why is Fairley so good? Chizik thinks it's a rare combination of suddenness and power. "You can use the suddenness for in-and-out type moves that keep guys off-balance and once they get off-balance, you can come back and counter with a power move where you can take a guy back to the quarterback," he said. "That's what you look for in a defensive linemen. And those things are sometimes rare."
  • Fairley has knocked two quarterbacks out of the game in back-to-back weeks. First Arkansas' Ryan Mallett. Then LSU's Jarrett Lee. It's probably enough to rattle future quarterbacks. "I just think anytime you pressure a guy, and whether you're putting him on the ground with the ball in his hand or you're putting him on the ground after he releases it, eventually that starts to build up in their minds," Chizik said. "And that's what pressures and sacks, that's what the result is. Bad balls being thrown down the field, that's what you hope you're getting when you get to the quarterback, especially when you can get to the quarterback without blitzing."
  • Fairley body-slammed Jordan Jefferson to the ground on his final sack. "I don't think we've named that yet," Chizik said.
  • Auburn could be No. 1 when the BCS rankings come out later tonight, something head coach Gene Chizik is trying to keep it out of his players' minds. He doesn't know how well that will work. "I can only control how we proceed in this building," he said. "We just had a team meeting and we talked about being very grounded and understanding that every week is a another new week and another opportunity. It probably sounds to them the same old sad song every Sunday. But that's what we do. Hopefully they'll continue to prepare -- I don't see any reason why they wouldn't -- like they have every other week."
  • No news on LB Daren Bates, who left just before halftime with a right shoulder injury. "We'll have to wait and see," Chizik said. He said Jonathan Evans or Eltoro Freeman are potential replacements there.
  • CB Neiko Thorpe had a bounceback game after the Arkansas debacle, despite playing with a cast on his left hand/arm that looked pretty cumbersome. "I was really proud of him," Chizik said. "I felt like he’s playing in kind of an uncomfortable situation. He’s beat up, he’s banged up like half of our football team is. But as a DB, sometimes that can get in your mind. He came back after last week and had a chance to make that pick there early. He was in great position, we were playing cover-three and did a great job breaking on the ball. Gained some confidence. Was able to spin out of some blocks and make tackles on the perimeter."
  • Chizik liked the powerful way Mike Dyer ran the ball, especially when he moved the pile five or six yards on a third-quarter run. "We're looking for that physical type of running back," Chizik said. "Mike runs with his shoulders so low. He runs low to the ground, he's extremely powerful, he hangs onto the football and he's one of those guys that he can move a pile. His feet never stop and you're looking for those type of physical runs, even those ones where he gets hit at the line of scrimmage where he gets hit by a linebacker, because they brought an eighth guy down to the box and he was unblocked and he still gets a 2-yard gain out of a no-yard gain. You have to have a running back on your team that can do that."
  • Strong praise for the offensive line too: "I don't think there's any question in my mind: everything has started with the offensive line playing much better than they did earlier in the year. That's what makes it go."
  • Chizik was very disappointed in the way the special teams played. He thought Quindarius Carr could have field a few of those punts that got downed inside the 2-yard line. Chizik said the team is "going to get that fixed. ... We can’t operate like that. That’s a special teams nightmare."
  • To the surprise of no one, Chizik would still like to see his team play a complete game. "If they'll look at the film and evaluate themselves accurately, there shouldn't be any reason for them to beat their chest at this point," he said.


CHB said...

Good stuff Andy.

Tar Heel Tiger said...

That's an understatement.