November 6, 2010

Dawgs turn focus to Auburn, Newton

As the final seconds ticked off the clock Saturday at Sanford Stadium, Georgia's focus took a quick shift - to Auburn and quarterback Cam Newton.

Unless you've lived in cave, then there's no way you could not know about the Tigers' Heisman Trophy candidate, who earlier this week saw his name linked to possible payments when he was being recruited by Mississippi State.

But as the Bulldogs looked ahead to next Saturday's game at Jordan-Hare Stadium (3:30, CBS), the only thoughts on the minds of players like Bacarri Rambo are how in the world Georgia's defense can slow down the Florida transfer and former Westlake High star.

"I know he's got a lot of hype but I think he's a great quarterback," Rambo said. "He's going through a situation now with the NCAA but we're definitely going to have to bring our A-game for that guy because there's no telling what he might do."

No telling, indeed.

One look at Newton's stats tells you all you need to know.

In 10 games, Newton has accounted for almost 2,700 yards of offense (1,573 passing and 1,122 rushing) and 29 touchdowns (15 passing, 14 rushing) after accounting for five touchdowns Saturday against Chattanooga, including a 15-of-21 day passing for 317 yards and four scores. He also rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown.

At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Newton has the shiftiness and speed of a much smaller man that draw comparisons to a player who led his team to a national title just a few years ago.

"He's probably a lot like a guy like Vince Young, just a big man who can run and throw extremely well," head coach Mark Richt said. "I don't think there's any doubt that Vince Young elevated Texas and Newton is doing the same."

Tiger fans certainly hope so.

With Saturday's rout of 66-24 rout of the Mocs, Auburn is in position to play for the national title should it close out the season with wins over Georgia and Alabama then beat the Eastern Division representative in the SEC Championship game.

"I'm very aware of what these last two games mean, not only for our season now but the tradition of Auburn football," Newton said after his team's game. "We know it's our time to turn it up. I think we're (the players) are going to do our job; the coaches are definitely going to do their job. If we just keep doing what we're doing we'll be in good hands."

It remains to be seen exactly what defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has in mind to try and slow Newton down.

Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray, who got to know Newton during his visits to Florida, laughed that he's not sure who the team will get to emulate Newton on the practice field this week.

"I don't know who can play him on the scout team. We've got some guys who can run as fast as him, but we don't have anybody as big as him; he's a freak athlete," Murray said. "He's hard to defend, that's why he's been successful but I'm sure Coach Grantham will have his guys ready and have a great plan."

When asked, about the Tigers' star, Grantham smiled.

"Yeah, I've seen him. He's pretty good," he said. "But so is their entire offense. They're a little bit of everybody we've seen, but they've got their own identity. We've obviously got to prepare for a great offensive team, a Heisman Trophy candidate who can throw and run. We're going to have to play well."

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