War Eagle Extra has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 4 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pre-practice notes: Newton on the Hesiman buzz: 'It's bigger than I ever thought it could be'

It's been less than a year since quarterback Cam Newton was at Blinn Community College, trying to get his once-promising career back on track.

With all the Heisman buzz surrounding him now that he's helped lead Auburn to an 8-0 start and the No. 1 spot in the BCS rankings, he's having a hard time believing it's all true.

"Every morning I try and pinch myself because I’m in a dream right now," he said. "I can’t even imagine."

Newton can't walk through campus without getting all sorts of attention, a far cry from his time at Blinn in Brenham, Texas.

"The times at Blinn where if I go to Walmart or if I go get some groceries, I would just look at that as if I was just a regular citizen," he said. "Now I can’t even go anywhere that someone doesn’t recognize me.

"That can either be a good thing or a bad thing in some instances, but I never let that get to me or interfere with me as a person because that doesn’t make me or break

Newton loves the vibe on around town.

"When you walk on campus, you can just feel the love of every single one," he said. "Whether it’s taking a picture or saying ‘War Eagle’ going to class, there is something just special about this campus that I really like and really admire about everybody on this campus. They make you feel special and there is more to it than just football. It’s something bigger.”

As for the official website the school created for him on the athletics page, Newton has seen it.

"I got a chance to glance on it but somehow or another I can’t look at it for real on my phone," he said. "Somebody put some thought into it. I felt kind of good because they did a better job than I could’ve done. It’s bigger than I ever thought it could be."

Follow the blog on Twitter and Facebook.

Here are some more notes and quotes from the early round of interviews:
  • It's no secret Auburn will be a target now that it has a No. 1 before its name in the BCS rankings. "I don’t think there’s any question," Chizik said. "Everybody reads it, everybody sees it and everybody hears it. We fully expect to get everybody’s best shot, not that we didn’t four weeks ago. I think that just simply from the media that surrounds the reality of it, you continue to get everybody’s best shot and we fully expect that. That’s what makes it fun.”
  • LT Lee Ziemba said at this point, losing doesn't even enter Auburn's mind. "You don’t think about losing at all. You think about what you can do to win the next game, "he said. "And that’s it. You don’t think about down the road. You can’t. You’ve got to think about one game at a time. That’s how we’ve got here, and that’s how we’ve got to continue."
  • Three straight No. 1 teams have lost. Auburn would like to end that streak. "If we do our job, you can cut that statistic out," Newton said. "We feel that our coaches do an excellent job in preparing us for our game so we won’t have the coaches to blame because they’re going to do their job. It’s going to be up to us as players to be able to come in and know their weaknesses and know what they’re good at and be able to attack them from every single direction.”
  • Five weeks after challenging the group to be more physical, Chizik followed up on his comments during the o-line's position meeting last Tuesday. "I went in there and told them, for us to win, you have to continue to improve, and you’re much better than you were a month ago, but you’re what makes it go," Chizik said. "So that’s where it starts."
  • Chizik was complimentary of the line's play. Since the public challenge, the Tigers have rushed for 300 or more yards in all four of its SEC games, including 440 last Saturday against LSU, the league's top rushing defense. "Coach Chizik, for those who don't know, he doesn't toss around compliments very often," Ziemba said. "Very rarely. For him to come into our meeting and steal five minutes and tell us how good of a job we're doing meant the world to me and to the rest of the guys."
  • What was his new message? "Little guys will follow the big guys," Ziemba said. "So it just starts with us."
  • Chizik thinks Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli is similar to Newton in some ways. "Well I think they both can give you a lot of problems just by their abilities to make things happen maybe when something isn’t necessarily there," he said. "He brings definitely a dimension to the team that’s two-fold, and his athletic ability is the reason he’s able to do those things."
  • Newton said he hasn't been clocked in the 40-yard dash at Auburn. "I wouldn’t consider myself fast, I just consider myself not being able to get caught," he said. "I just don’t want to get caught because that’s going to be the biggest topic on the sideline, ‘Man you got caught.’ I just hate getting caught in the open field. That would be shameful of me.”
  • It's been eight straight weeks for Auburn, with three more on the schedule before a bye. "(Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn) used to always say, ‘Embrace the grind,'" Newton said. "This was leading upon two-a-days and he used to always say ‘The moment can never be too big for an athlete to be able to perform.’ There are countless quotes that ol’ Gus Malzahn has in his vernacular. He just keeps spitting them out back to back. He is a wise guy, and just being around him can make you a wise person. He’s just saying that just because he was always saying ‘Great teams embrace the grind.’ You just can’t come out here and expect on Saturday just to practice or play well because it starts on the first day or whenever the installation is for the next team, and you have to love that.”
  • Newton said his play hasn't been perfect. "There are a lot of things that I get away with that a lot of people really don’t see, and I just can’t get lax in my ability to get myself out of trouble," he said. "I still have to make the reads and whatnot."
  • Ziemba was bummed he didn't get into the play where Auburn moved Mike Dyer in the pile for about five yards after the play appeared done. "I'm kind of ashamed of this," he said. "I blocked my backer pretty good. And then I see the pile behind me and I just kind of watched it, because I really couldn't do anything. I couldn't grab the pile and pull it forward. And I didn't want to get a personal foul and make it all for naught, so I kind of sat there and watched everybody else get involved."
  • At least Ziemba's guy didn't get in the play. "Yeah, he didn't get involved either," he said. "That's the main part of it."
  • Ziemba admitted he's not the best trash talker. "Back when I was a freshman, I remember Tyronne Green – he plays for the Chargers – he would have to back me up because I’d get all tongue-twisted," he said. "I’m not good at talking crap, talking smack. I would just be like kind of ‘Uh, yeah, shut up.’ And he’d have to come in there and like help me out with some of that and back me up. I remember that kind of stuff. And all the guys make fun of me because I’m not very good at talking smack. I’ve improved, I think. I’ve got some go-to lines.”
  • It's another part of his game Ziemba has honed. "I’ve gotten a lot better since then," he said with a laugh. "A lot better, I’d have to say. The guys don’t think so, but I do.”
  • Who's the best trash talker on the team? "I don’t know," Ziemba said. "Looks like our defense does a lot of it."
  • One more Newton tale from Blinn. He remembered the spring of 2009, when Blinn coach Brad Franchione made the team paint the stadium. "And it wasn’t like the paint brushes you get at Home Depot, these were like the sample ones," he said. "You had to keep dipping it like three times. It was bad."
  • Newton said it's part of what kept him humble while at Blinn. "I can revert back to that and remember where I came from," he said. "It was during the time that I had just gotten there maybe a month, month and a half and I was like, ‘Man, a couple of months ago I was drinking Gatorade looking at NFL prospects. Now I’m looking at guys that aren’t even in the same league as my little brother.’ I still keep up with those guys to this day and they are genuine guys."
  • Despite Mario Fannin's fumbling problems, Chizik said the Tigers aren't giving up onthe running back. "We’re right there with him," Chizik said. "We need Mario to win. There’s no question about that. We’re right there with him. I could turn on the film and show you a lot of guys that have made mistakes throughout the games that no one did notice, but they were huge. That’s our whole team. We’ve all made those mistakes and we’re sticking with our guys.”
  • Chizik said Auburn stresses ball security as much as it can. "Coach (Curtis) Luper continues to work it with all the running backs all the time from the time they get out there and stretch to the time they leave the field," Chizik said. "Again, it’s just something we’ll continue to stress andhopefully we’ll have a better result."
  • Although Quindarius Carr hasn't done much in the punting game, Chizik doesn't anticipate making any major changes back there.
  • Lots of feel good stuff about Zac Etheridge nearly a year after his scary neck injury a year ago against Ole Miss. "He’s blessed," Chizik said. "A year ago now was a very hard time for everybody, for him, for his family, for our team. Just the fact that he’s sitting here playing in this game is amazing. I’m in amazement when I really step back and think about that day. He’s very blessed, he knows he is and it’s just going to be somewhat of a little bit of an emotional deal for him possibly. I don’t know, we haven’t really talked about it. I know he knows how lucky he is, and I’m sure he’s not going to forget that."
  • Ole Miss' Jesse Grandy had an 82-yard kick return for a touchdown last year against Auburn. Chizik is well aware. "When you have somebody that good at what they do, that’s where it really becomes a huge point of emphasis for us for all of our coverage units," he said. "I think it’s going to be a huge special teams game."
  • Another player who got challenged a couple weeks ago? RB Eric Smith. "A couple of weeks ago I didn’t think he was playing near up to the potential that he should be," Chizik said. "And we challenged him a couple of weeks ago and I think we’ve seen a significant change in the way he’s played."
  • Chizik likes Smith because "he does dirty work. He knows that’s his job. It’s not always glamorous or glorious, but it’s what we have to do to be successful offensively with what his role is in our run game and in our protections."
  • Chizik was asked if he is enjoying this moment (presumably being undefeated and No. 1 in the BCS) because it doesn't happen to often. "I enjoy every day I come here," he said. "Today is no different to me than a month ago. Not one bit. I did the same things this morning I did one month ago. I’ll do the same things this afternoon I did eight weeks ago. I’ll do the same thing tonight I did seven weeks ago. I’m just blessed to be able to get up every day and come to work here. Other than that, nothing’s changed."


Tar Heel Tiger said...

Great work, AB!

I enjoyed every consonant, vowel, and punctuation mark.


MikeP said...

Very fine report. Thanks!