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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Evening notes: Chizik still not talking about Newton, unless it's about his play

Continuing his position from the latter part of the week, Auburn coach Gene Chizik would not comment on the ongoing Cam Newton situation.

"I'll take questions today based on any question that has to do with Cameron and the game last night," Chizik said. "Otherwise I have the same stance."

Newton has been in the spotlight for the last week and a half after reports surfaced that his father engaged in talks with Mississippi State about a possible pay-for-play plan during the quarterback's recruitment last year.

Chizik didn't go near the situation Sunday. When asked when the school decided it would be OK to play Cam in the game, Chizik said, "Like I said, I'll take questions about him in the game," stressing the word "in."

He had no hesitation about answering questions about Newton's performance, which continues to be Heisman Trophy worthy.

Newton had 299 combined rushing and passing yards and accounted for four touchdowns. Auburn converted 10 of 14 third downs in the game. All were accomplished by a Newton run.

“Let me tell you something: when the game’s on the line, he wants the ball in his hands," Chizik said.

The Tigers have scored 60 touchdowns this year. Newton has had a hand in 39 of them.

"Whether it’s third-down conversions, what he means in the red zone, what he does in the red zone — he’s just a big part of our offense," Chizik said.

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Here are some other notes. We'll keep them quick tonight since we only spoke to Chizik:
  • After 11 straight weeks of action (15 if you count August practice), Auburn finally has its bye. But that doesn’t mean time off. “This is Iron Bowl week, so we’re not going to have a whole lot of time to rest,” Chizik said.
  • Like last year, the Tigers’ bye week comes late in the season. It gives them 12 days to heal up and prepare for the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 26. “In terms of how many days you practice, how much time are you giving these guys to let their bodies heal up mentally and physically, I think there’s a line in there somewhere,”Chizik said. “And we’re going to try to find that great balance. We’re going to make sure when we come back, we’ve really got the energy we need to go.”
  • Auburn hasn't been in an SEC championship game since 2004. Its opponent, South Carolina, had an even longer wait. The Gamecocks qualified for their first title game since its creation in 1992, winning at Florida 36-14 Saturday night to take the SEC East.
  • "They’re a great football team," Chziik said. "And there’s no question last night they played really, really well. A lot of passion, a lot of intensity. You can tell they went into Gainesville to win that game."Auburn won the teams' meeting this year at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 25, rallying from a 13-point first-half deficit to win 35-27. The title game takes place Dec. 4 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Kickoff is 4 p.m. ET.
  • Chizik liked what he saw out of sophomore DE Dee Ford in limited time. Ford got a sack late in the game against Georgia. "He's been an undersized guy who's really tried to work to put on some weight and get stronger," Chizik said. "He works hard in the weight room. He's getting a little but more experience that's helping him become a better player. The experience he got (last year) isn't the same as what he got last year in terms of time."
  • Luck always comes into play during runs like the Tigers have had. "There's always times when you look back and you say: A little luck didn't hurt us," Chizik said. "Particularly this year. I don't know that there's a game of any sort that just pops out. When you get to this point and you are 11-0, you look back on some things. You know you played really well at times. You probably played poorly at times. There's a little luck in there for you as well."
  • Chizik talked some about being a defensive-minded guy but having a group that gives up quite a bit of yards and points. "When you're not playing well, the worst thing you can do is look back and say: We never got better in the game, we never adjusted in the game," he said. "I don't think that's necessarily the case. Surely on the paper, we'd look at the stats that some people want to look at closely and wish we were in a better place. There's also some stats where we think we've done some things well, too. There's some give and take in there."
  • Chizik said he was pleased with how Auburn stopped the run against Georgia (81 yards) and got better about giving up big plays. "Did we have them under control early in the game? No, we did not,'" he said. "We got better as time went on."
  • He credited defensive coordinator Ted Roof at being good at adjusting on the fly. “Ted does a really good job of seeing what the team’s idea is in the first quarter, quarter and a half and being able to respond defensively with what it is we need to have an answer for it," Chizik said. "So I think you’ve seen that happen several times over the year.”
  • Newton's passing seems to be overlooked most of the time. He was 12-for-15 with two touchdowns Saturday. Two of his incompletions were drops. He made a number of different throws too. “You can really go through the gamut," Chizik said. "He’s really done it all this year. He’s thrown off his back foot, and arguably that shouldn’t be the way you throw, but the ball gets in there. He’s thrown it flat-footed, he’s thrown it on the run. He’s really done it about every way you can do it, and again, I think it points back to his athleticism. You don’t coach that stuff.”
  • Running back Onterio McCalebb had one of his best games to date, rushing for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Most of his 12 runs were to the outside. "Not that we won’t give it to him on the inside as well, but the perimeter run game is where we feel he’s a real threat," Chizik said.
  • McCalebb has avoided the injury bug that bothered him last year. Chizik has also been impressed by his decisiveness. “I think he’s learned how to finish runs a little bit better," Chizik said. "I think that was a confidence issue. And I think he’s learned over the last month or so to really learn to stick his foot in the ground and try to finish some runs. Which I don’t think a year ago – or even earlier this season – he was doing. He’s doing that much better now.”


Clint Richardson said...


This should make all Auburn fans feel a lot better about all this Cam-gate stuff. I started to not believe any of these allegations, but this article makes me feel that much better. Good read too.

Tar Heel Tiger said...

Thanks for all the info, AB.

RW said...

Clint, your post just made my day. I had a feeling that this was the case, I just wasn't aware what the actual NCAA rules said. When the spokeswoman said that solicitation of benefits "isn't allowed under NCAA rules," that didn't really shock me. Did anyone really think that was allowed? No...but as far as a rule against it...there doesn't seem to be one.

RW said...

Andy, you should do an article on the actual NCAA rules involving this case. Has anyone at a mainstream news source even tried to do this? It wouldn't be that difficult and it would probably stun people nationwide since no one seems to know the rules.

Clint Richardson said...

RW, your welcome man. I saw that and am just trying to help my AU Family feel better about all this. There's nothing to it. Cam is free, and will play.