Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bo Knows Cam

From Chris Low at ESPN:

For 25 years, Bo Jackson has been looking for a way to cast his Heisman Trophy vote for an Auburn player.

He's found his man.

Jackson, who won the Heisman Trophy at Auburn in 1985 and is considered one of the greatest players in SEC history, said Cam Newton has his vote and then some.

"I've looked for a chance for the past 25 years, and it never happened," said Jackson, now a businessman living in suburban Chicago. "So I don't have to tell you who I'm voting for this year. I've already got the ballot marked & with an exclamation point."

More here:

In my time of watching SEC football, which goes back to the late 1970s, Jackson would be in my holy trinity along with Herschel Walker and Peyton Manning as the three best players I’ve seen in this league.

So when Bo speaks, I listen, and something tells me they’re listening on the Plains, too.

He’s marveled as much as anybody this season at what Newton has done to SEC defenses.

But over and above that, Jackson is a fan of where this entire Auburn program is headed.

“From an Auburn football player, it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve been this excited about Auburn football,” Jackson said. “I actually don’t watch football and don’t watch baseball, but I watch Auburn football.

“This is one of those years when I couldn’t wait for the season. It was the same way last year. I couldn’t wait for the season to start, not because of what has happened, but because I knew the people that are running the show down there now care more about the players than just what they do on the football field. When you have that and the performance they’re getting, this is the kind of season you get.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spur Of The Moment Link-Fest

Normally I (quite happily) leave this kind of thing up to Jerry, but since he's taken CBS's Boeing, what the heck:

  • Lein Shory rips Bob Stoops and Andy Staples a well-deserved collective new one.
  •  Think they're getting a little worried about Auburn up in Tuscaloosa?  Bama Online writer Travis Reier tweets that the Tide has been practicing against AU's offense during their off-week.  I've heard the same thing from several other people today.
  •  Is it just me, or does Ivan Maisel sound more than a little butt-hurt (thank you, youth of America, for this entirely useful new phrase) over Auburn's recent success in his Monday ESPN podcast?  Either way, well worth the listen, as always.
  •  Finally, check out Andy Bitter's rundown of the early-week news from Auburn.  Another outstanding outing from the best newspaper reporter on the AU beat.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Obvious But Obligatory

So, it's Ole Miss week.  The Bad News Black Bear Rebels started the season by losing to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt.  Since then they beat Fresno State handily, upset Kentucky, lost to Alabama and Arkansas, and sit at 3-4 (they also beat Tulane along the way, but hardly anybody noticed). 

Your thoughts, Admiral?

To put it another way, "Don't get cocky."

Monday, October 25, 2010

New At Roundtable For LSU

Here's a link to my contribution for this week's Blogger roundtable.  A sample:

Auburn question 1: Saturday may have been the best overall performance by Auburn's defense this year. How has that unit grown from last year, and is the defense good enough to win a championship?
If so, the key words will be "good enough." As demonstrated against LSU Saturday, Auburn is entirely capable of being dominant up front to stop the run, but as also demonstrated against Arkansas, the patchwork secondary is just as capable of being torched--repeatedly--by good quarterbacks and receivers.

The comparison with the 2009 defense is apt. Auburn's problem last season was across-the-board lack of depth. Not being able to substitute linemen or linebackers just killed the Tigers late in ball games, particularly against the run. That's been largely corrected this season--but only in the front seven. Behind them, the 2010 secondary has attritted almost as quickly as the '09 version.

The biggest difference, though, is obviously the dominant play of Nick Fairley up front. Auburn arguably hasn't had an interior lineman as disruptive and dangerous as Fairley since the days of his coach and mentor, 1988 Outland and Lombardi Award winner Tracy Rocker. The attention, double-teams and sheer terror generated by Fairley's massive push has opened up a path for linebackers Josh Bynes, Craig Stevens and Daren Bates to smother ball carriers, and helped to take some of the pressure off the beleaguered secondary.

In terms of winning and losing, you have to look at Auburn's defensive improvement in the second half...

New At Rivals: Corn Dogs--Fried, Broiled and Blackened

Here's a link to my post-game column for the LSU game, as posted at Rivals'  A preview:

Another week, another win, another eye-popping, record-shattering, jaw-on-the ground day from one Cameron Jerrelle Newton.

It's gotten to the point where just about every sports guy on television and in print is making jokes about how hard it is to find new ways to describe just how amazing this guy is on the football field.

Newton will be the first to tell you--or anybody else--that he doesn't do it alone. When asked after the LSU game about his 54-yard touchdown scamper, one of the most amazing displays of broken-field running I have ever seen, Newton called it "a great example of blocking" on the parts of his teammates.

Newton was being thoroughly modest in that particular case, but he was entirely in the right to point out how tough Auburn has been on the offensive line and in up-field blocking from the receivers. LSU's famed defensive lineman Drake Nevis was almost completely shut down, logging only two tackles. All-everything cornerback Patrick Peterson was almost as unproductive, notching three stops, and was unable to catch either Newton or Onterrio McCalebb on their long scoring runs.

But still. You're talking about a guy who could meet Kelvin Sheppard, a senior three-year starting linebacker in what was touted as the nation's best defense, at the one yard line... and pancake him for a touchdown. This is not normal behavior.

Look, it's time to say it: there's never been anything like this guy in modern football. The closest analogue is of course Tim Tebow, but Tebow didn't have anything like Newton's speed and elusiveness, and I suspect Newton also has a stronger throwing arm. While there's a marked trend today towards dual-threat quarterbacks, I'm guessing that in twenty years we'll look back at Newton the way we look at Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker today: an unearthly talent the likes of which appears once or twice in a generation--if you're lucky.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

What He Said

Via just-took-the Boeing uber-blogger Jerry Hinnen:

Look, no one’s got more sympathy for Mario Fannin than I do. But enough is enough. That fumble might not have led directly to points, but it flipped the field position that Auburn had worked so hard to dig themselves out of right back to LSU. And a few backed-up drives later, the double-pass finally forced Auburn to pay. That touchdown was on Mario. If Dyer–who, by the by, ran for 100 yards on just 15 carries–is healthy, there’s just no reason to let Mario to carry the ball anymore. The risks are too great for the reward.
Read the whole thing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

LSU, Before And After

LSU, before Auburn:

LSU, after Auburn:

Any questions?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New at Blogger Roundtable for Arkansas

Thanks to an email mix-up, my contribution to this week's Blogger Roundtable got delayed a few days, but it's up now.  A preview:

Auburn question 1: Cam Newton's Heisman buzz is building with every linebacker he trucks over en route to the end zone. Archie Manning is ready to give him the trophy already. Is he your front-runner? Why or why not? Where would Auburn be without him? Where would Florida be with him?

Asking where any team would be without their star player has always struck me as a silly question. I remember when Alabama fans in the early 80's used to grouse that AU wouldn't have won a game without Bo Jackson; in other related topics, your car would run a lot slower if gasoline didn't exist. It was a goofy point then, and it's a goofy point now when applied to Newton. 

Nobody knows where Auburn would be without Newton, other than being sure the past seven games would have been significantly different, in that they would have had no Godzilla on the field. Perhaps Barrett Trotter would be breaking records in the passing game (if the Arkansas game on Saturday said anything, it's "don't underestimate the second-string quarterback"), and perhaps not. I don't know, and you don't, either.

All that said, duh--Newton is special. He's that rare player that elevates the team around him, and he does so with an aplomb and effectiveness that can't help remind me of one Vincent Edward Jackson. He's a great player at Auburn, and he's helped by the fact that he's playing in an offense perfectly suited to his style, but it's pretty clear at this point that he would be a great player anywhere. I find it really hard to believe that Florida would be 4-3 right now if he were still wearing their tacky shade of blue.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Five Questions With Bourbon & Coke

The title sounds more like some of my weekend study sessions from twenty years ago than a blog post... but actually, I was asked by the guys at the Bourbon & Coke site to answer a few questions about the season to date and the looming 2010 edition of the Tiger Bowl.  Here's a sample:

B&C: We are running out of superlatives to describe Cameron Newton. As an Auburn fan, where do you rank his first seven games in a Tiger uniform, is his current run the best performance by a newcomer in the school's history?

FTB: The simple answer is first.  There just isn't anybody who compares as far as their first seven games go.  Bo Jackson, as great as he was, didn't get to the point where he could take over football games until about his sophomore year.  The QB/WR combination of Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley were a huge improvement on the Auburn offense that preceded them, but they also didn't really light up the SEC until their second season (1970).  Newton has personally dominated every game he's played in to the point where, as you note, it's hard to find the right words to keep describing it, and there's just no precedent for his level of performance to date.

But all that said, we do have to remember that unlike Bo and Sullivan and most other great stars of the past, Newton isn't starting as a freshman (or a sophomore; in Sullivan's day, freshmen weren't eligible).  He's got a great advantage in that he's not debuting as an eighteen-year-old kid who's still trying to adjust to his first year of college as well as big-time football.  He's a 21-year-old adult who's had--as we're all reminded regularly by the media--significant life experiences.  Having come through all of that to return to SEC football has clearly given him a lot more maturity and stability than your average freshman is ever likely to enjoy.  

He's really something, though.  Newton isn't just playing football at an extraordinary level; he's obviously having the time of his life doing it. He's a joy to watch.

I mistakenly thought when I was answering that B&C was an LSU blog, but it turns out to be an all-SEC affair, and quite a good one.  Check them out.

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Photo:  AP/Dave Martin.  Cape:  Lein Shory.

Regarding "The Computers"...

Tony Barnhart's column today concerns the vicissitudes of the computer rankings used by the BCS. My comment:

The problem with the computer rankings is, well, they're garbage. Journalism majors are apparently impressed when told "the computer says...", but anybody with technical training knows the dictum, garbage in, garbage out. Nobody knows--because the "poll" owners won't reveal--what data goes into the software, and with one exception, nobody knows what math the software uses to generate the rankings. What little we do know tends to indicate that the math is bogus, meaning the output is just as bogus (Tony alludes to this above; Oklahoma was still ranked #1 by computer software in 2003 even after being drilled in their conference championship game).

The human polls aren't notably better, since they're compiled by entirely fallible human beings, but placing any faith in "the computers" speaks more to general technical ignorance than any objective reality.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Leftover Ribs

There really wasn't anywhere to fit this bit into my Monday Rivals column, so here it is as an FTB extra:

The officiating, as usual, was terrible. Referee Penn Wagers is so clueless he doesn't even know not to stand in front of a kick returner when the ball is in the air, so what did you really expect from his crew? Don't expect things to get any better on that front; if the last decade-plus of officiating incompetence has told us anything, it's that the SEC's old boys club is much more concerned about squelching bad press than in actually fixing the annual buffonery of its punch-line zebras.

The best thing you can say is that the bad calls generally canceled each other out--but that still doesn't excuse the sheer awfulness on display when Wagers and his buddies inserted themselves into seemingly every other play.
From what I hear, whining about the refs dominates the discussion in Hogland today. As far as I can tell, though, there doesn't appear to be any acknowledgement of the phantom holding call that set up Arkansas' first drive, or the terrible spot that saved Arkie from turning the ball over own downs in the second half, or any other Penn Wagers screw-ups if said screwup didn't hurt the Pigs. But that's life in the SEC--especially if you just beat Arkansas

Thankfully for the nation's sanity, Wally Hall's columns have been pulled behind a paywall, but I'll bet his conspiracy theorizing after 65-43 was epic.

I Can't Understand Why People Think He's Dumb

From Clay Travis's Twitter feed:

Les Miles: "If we had Cam Newton, he'd be our third quarterback." True quote.
UPDATE:  I'm told this was much less a case of Miles belittling Newton than it was a case of Lesbonics in action.  Apparently he was asked who on the LSU scout team would be "playing" Newton in practice this week, and meant to answer, essentially, 'if I had a guy who could play like that, he'd be playing quarterback for the varsity.'  But being Lester, the quote above came out instead.

New at Rivals: Pork Special

Here's a link to my column for Rivals' on the Arkansas game.  A sample:

One hundred and eight record-shattering points. Over a thousand yards of total offense, a blocked punt, a 99-yard kickoff return, three turnovers, fourteen combined penalties and four hours of CBS-commercial-larded football. Sixty-five to 43. And I'm supposed to sum all that up in about nine hundred words?

Not gonna happen. That's way too much for one column. But here goes anyway.

Let's quickly get past the obvious stuff, that you've likely already heard and/or read thousands of words about. Cameron Newton: awesome, now a Heisman front-runner, and probably not human. Auburn's pass defense: bad. Game: exciting; even given this season's standard, entirely too much so. Seventh consecutive win to remain undefeated: hell, yes.

I'm pretty sure if I'd convinced you on Friday that Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett would leave the game for good midway though the second quarter, you'd have bet the mortgage on the Tigers. I'm just as sure that if I'd told you Arkansas was going to score 43 points with 428 passing yards, you'd have placed the same bet on the Razorbacks. It was that kind of a day.

For a good long while there, it looked like Auburn was going to fall victim to yet another coming-out party for a backup quarterback. There's been more than a little speculation in the SEC that this, likely Mallett's last year in Fayetteville, was Bobby Petrino's last chance to make a big splash at Arkansas for a while. We can put that one to rest; if anything, he's going to have a better starter next year than he's had this season, since not only is Tyler Wilson one hell of a passer, he's not a whiny prima donna.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Yes, It's THAT Week

You know what to do.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bo Knows Auburn, 2010

Your instructions for today:

1. Click here.

2. Click on "Bo Jackson Speech" on the right side of the web page.

3. Call the contractor and get your house fixed, because you're going to run through a wall.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New at Roundtable Part 2

As promised, the second part of my responses to this week's Blogger Roundtable questions has been posted, here's a sample:
NCAA question: Now that Alabama has a loss, who should be the No. 1 team in the polls? Which teams have the best chance of making it to the BCS Championship?

If I had an AP vote, Oregon would get it this week. They've been the most consistent team against good competition. Ohio State hasn't played anybody except a very suspect Miami, but the Big Televen, as usual, is as soft as pudding, and it's unlikely that they'll lose in the regular season. Given the love affair that the media has with TOSU and the Big Televen in general, they're most likely going to make it to the BCS final--and when they get there, of course, they're going to be exposed. Again.
Humorously, the Bammie contingent in's infamously-ridiculous comments area appears to have discovered my posts in a big way. I always get a kick out of seeing dozens and dozens of furious and subliterate responses regarding a team that fan base likes to claim is "irrelevant" and "not our biggest rival anyway."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Playoffs

Tony Barnhart's column today concerns the proposal for a 16-team playoff as outlined in Dan Wetzel's book Death To The BCS. I agree with both Wetzel's conclusion that the BCS is bogus, and also with Barnhart's real-world analysis that the current power structure in college football isn't remotely amenable to such a plan. That said, I think Tony missed an opportunity to mention the sports media's interest in maintaining the status quo.

If you want to rile up any MSM sportswriter, just point out to him how ridiculous it is that we've been subject to an Associated Press poll that's overwhelmingly populated by a bunch of beat writers who get to see one game a week and base their rankings off of (a) the highlights they see on ESPN and (b) justifications like, "well, that's where I've ranked [team] for weeks, and they didn't lose, so I'm not going to change anything." The unspoken statement in the latter is, of course, "If I did, that would mean admitting I was wrong about something."

At any rate, Barnhart asks in his conclusion whether readers would, if they were university presidents, vote for Wetzel's playoff plan. This was my response:

Hell, I’ve been voting for a playoff for 30 years. The current subjective, beauty-contest system is a complete joke. I’m all for a selection committee with absolutely no input from the polls, which are at best uninformed (Harris, AP) and at worst corrupt (SID-uh, I mean, coaches), or garbage-in, garbage-out computer rankings. I don’t think the Sun Belt, MAC, WAC, CUSA or even the Big Least deserve automatic bids; if they have a team good enough to qualify in a given year, a selection committee would catch them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hey, New Look!

As you may have noticed, FTB got a fresh coat of paint and some spiffy new detailing today, thanks to friend-of-the-blog and all-around good guy Lein Shory.

All together now: THANKS, LEIN!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Even Better Than The Real Thing

EDSBS is running live commentary on today's (Monday, October 11) Finebaum show. We're an hour in as of this writing, and the thread is already epic. One sample chosen more or less at random:
What do they talk about on this show from Feb-August?

I’m very worried that the answer is “this.”

by Waitin' for a SuperFrog on Oct 11, 2010 12:31 PM PDT reply actions
Not to be missed, and much better than having to listen to the rampant insanity on the actual radio.

New at Roundtable Part 1

Here's a link to my latest post for the Blogger Roundtable. I sent them quite a bit more than this one item, so I assume they'll be posting the rest later in the week. A brief sample:
I can only imagine what a pleasant week it's going to be for Auburn folks who've been bombarded with two and a half years of full-on media tongue baths for the Tide and Nick "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach" Saban. I'm guessing a stat that won't show up on the box scores will be the drastic drop in public displays of UAT car flags, t-shirts and magnets over the next several days. That alone is cause for plenty of celebration -- and that doesn't even mention the entirely-satisfying sight of a fan base that holds rankings in the AP poll above all other priorities having to look up to see the Auburn Tigers.

Will The Last Un-Arrested UGA Player Please Lock The Equipment Room?

Things are now officially ridiculous in Athens. From the AJC:
University of Georgia tailback Caleb King was booked into the Clarke County Jail early Monday on unspecified charges.
I like Mark Richt as much as the next guy (really), but this is just another symptom of being a Bowden-trained coach. Everywhere Bobby and his descendants (either literal or figurative) go, the police blotter fills up in a hurry.

New at Rivals: To Skin A Cat

Here's my post-game column for Kentucky, at Rivals'
I'm going to run out of superlatives to describe Cameron Newton long before this season is over. That ridiculous first-half sideline pass is already one of the season's top highlight clips. It'll take a much better writer than me to accurately describe just how dominant Newton was in the first half and in the game-winning drive. To severely mix my movie metaphors, the stomp of Godzilla's feet was the sound of inevitability for the Wildcats; he just absolutely could not be stopped. Gene Chizik's call to go the safe route by running down the clock and kicking the field goal was absolutely the right decision, but if for some reason kickers had been outlawed for this game, is there any doubt that Newton would have found the end zone anyway?

You've got to be impressed with the combined job former coach Rich Brooks and current top 'Cat Joker Phillips have done in Lexington. It's still hard to picture the Wildcats as perennial contenders, but they've come a very long way since the days of Bill Curry and "You can't spell 'sucks' without UK." Phillips certainly got the most out of his guys on Saturday, and his staff deserves a lot of credit for one hell of a rally after getting dominated over the first half. Defensive coordinator Steve Brown looked clueless during Newton's initial barrage, but he made a dynamite halftime adjustment. All-everything back Randall Cobb and Boone-from-Lost look-alike QB Mike Hartline both had great games against the Tigers. It won't surprise me one bit if they upset a still-celebrating South Carolina next week.

It would have surprised me, to say the least, if they'd managed to beat AU on Saturday night, though. Auburn's game-winning drive was the kind of feat, when been performed by certain other teams more beloved by the media, that's described as 'a gritty comeback' and 'the measure of a championship team' and other such cliches. I don't care to jump on that particular bandwagon this morning--Auburn shouldn't have needed to make a game-winning drive in a game the Tigers had under control--but it really was something to see.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Barnhart vs. Godzilla

Tony Barnhart weighs in with a very nice appreciation of one Cameron Jerrell Newton:

Newton is like nobody else in the SEC. He has Terrelle Pryor quickness but he is stronger. He has a Ryan Mallett arm and can throw it 50 plus yards with the flick of his wrist. On third down and less than 6 he exerts tremendous pressure on a defense. If his receiver is not open chances are he's going to get to the first down marker and move the chains. And when Gus Malzahn picks up the tempo of his spread offense with the big fella running it, just trying to keep up will absolutely wear a defense out. South Carolina simply gassed in the fourth quarter because Newton was relentless.

"There are things we can do with Cameron that work well in this offense," said Malzahn. "He obviously has skill. Our challenge is to take advantage of those skills but to also distribute the ball to our other playmakers. What we can't do is become predictable because we have a talented player at the quarterback position."

Newton is surrounded by a veteran offensive line and a ton of playmakers. He is the SEC's No. 4 rusher but two other Auburn backs, Onterio McCalebb and freshman Michael Dyer, are both in the Top 10. Auburn's receiving group is as good as any in the league with the possible exception of Arkansas.

"There are so many guys here who can make plays it's incredible," said Newton. "I am going to get some chances because that is what the quarterback does. But this offense is going to be good because we get a lot of people involved."

Read the whole thing.

In other news, Orson Spencer Swindle Hall Mellencamp at EDSBS channels closet college football fan Christopher Hitchens today, with hysterical results. I'm running out of ways to say that the dude's game is off-the-charts lately.

New at Blogger Roundtable for La-Mo

Here's my post for this week's Blogger Roundtable. A sample:

Q: Pick your favorite player from this year's team. Since we've already talked about him a few times this year, I'm barring Cam Newton. Tell me why the player resonates with you and why you enjoy watching him play. If you can't bear to pick a favorite, make a case for someone as your team's most overlooked/underrated player.

A: Nick Fairley. Defensive ends, particularly rush ends, usually get the glory (such as it is) in any front three/four, but Fairley has been breathtaking this season. You might have to go all the way back to the late 80's heyday of Ron Stallworth and current AU assistant Tracey Rocker to find an Auburn tackle (or back then, nose guard) getting that much consistent push into an opponent's backfield.

I'd nominate running back Eric Smith for the most overlooked--and maybe the most underutilized--player on the squad. Smith, who can play all over the field from halfback to fullback to receiver, has been dynamite both as a blocker and in his rare moments carrying the football. He had a memorable play against Clemson, gutting out tough extra yards late in the game.

Auburn's offense is getting a little crowded these days, what with Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery, Mike Dyer, Emory Blake, Onterrio McCalebb and Mario Fannin all getting touches--not to mention Phillip Lutzenkirchen--but I'd still like to see Smith get his hands on the ball more often.

Monday, October 04, 2010

... And This Was After A Win

Check out this video from WWL in New Orleans. It was taken inside and outside of Tiger Stadium immediately after LSU's 16-14 win over Tennessee:

Remember--these are actual LSU fans, almost all of whom paid serious money to be at that game.  Those kinds of fans are the backbone of a program, and of a coach's support.  When they turn on him...

Don't make any long-term plans, Lester.

New at Rivals: So Far, So Very Good

Here's a link to my post-game column on Louisiana-Monroe for Rivals' A preview:
In my mind, the real measure of a team and its coaches lies in whether they can build on what they've done week-to-week and continue to improve. That's why I like this team, and why I liked Saturday's game. Sure, we're talking about Louisiana-Monroe here, a fourth-rate program that no self-respecting SEC team and/or coach should ever be threatened by, much less lose to. Beating La-Mo soundly in a checkbook game isn't anything to be inordinately proud of, but how you do so can be a measure of where your program is at that moment in your season.

The sportswriter cliche for this one is, Auburn took care of business. The War Hawks were effectively dispatched in four offensive plays totaling less than a minute of possession time, for two early Tiger touchdowns. But anybody with a pulse already knew Cam Newton and company can move the ball and score; what impressed me Saturday was how seriously the defense took its job, and how well they played through to the end. The '09 Auburn defense, once substitutions began in earnest, would probably have given up a score or three to La-Mo's dink-and-dunk attack. That didn't happen Saturday; a first-quarter field goal was the beginning and end of their points.

I liked that a lot. A year ago the subs gave up four second-half touchdowns to Furman, which in and of itself wasn't meaningful (Auburn still won going away), but the late defensive slump spoke poorly--and accurately--of AU's lack of defensive depth. This year, Ted Roof was able to substitute all the way off the printed roster and still maintain a three-quarter shutout. Nearly blanking La-Mo won't win any awards, but following through is a big deal in football, and something Auburn wasn't able to do often enough last season. Again, in a word: improvement.

I also like the way the staff approached this game offensively: as a live practice for diversifying the offense. Gus Malzahn has griped a bit (mostly good-naturedly) about Newton's being the team's leading rusher over the first four contests. I'm guessing Newton was probably told if he ran the ball any Saturday, he could count on doing some additional running on Sunday--as punishment. Obligingly, "Godzilla" stayed in the backfield and led the offense like a traditional quarterback, moving the ball around to a plethora of receivers and running backs.

Malzahn was not completely without mercy--or a sense of humor--of course. Newton made his first contribution to yet another line on the Auburn stat tables Saturday with his first (and let's hope, last) punt--the one and only Auburn punt of the day.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.