AUBURN, Ala. — Quarterback Cam Newton made a number of spectacular plays in Auburn’s 37-34 win against Kentucky on Saturday night, but none were as unique as the 33-yard pass he completed to Kodi Burns while falling out of bounds.
Kentucky forced Newton out of the pocket to his right in the second quarter. As the 6-foot-6, 250-pound junior neared the sideline, he dipped his shoulder and, a at a 45-degree angle, launched a pass downfield before falling out of bounds..
Burns darted across the field to make a sliding tackle on the rope of a pass to the Kentucky 9. It was his first catch this season.
What was offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn’s reaction?
“He said that was a wild play,” Newton said. “He paused (the film) when I was releasing the ball and I looked at my body, how it was contorted in this awkward position. I don’t know what to say.
“I’m just a blessed individual and God has continued to use me, and that’s it.”
Gene Chizik didn’t shed much light on Auburn’s injury situation, but the head coach did confirm reserve linebacker Eltoro Freeman didn’t make the trip to Kentucky because he was banged up, calling him “day-by-day.”
Wide receiver DeAngelo Benton, meanwhile, hurt his left ankle late in the game. Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen was slowed down after getting undercut on a pass.
“Both of those guys, just kind of the middle of the year, bumps and bruises and they’re like everybody else and we’re going to wait and see as the week unfolds,” Chizik said.
Chizik hopes defensive end Craig Sanders (concussion) and wide receiver Shaun Kitchens (ankle) will be able to progress enough this week to play against Arkansas.
May the best man win
Freshman Steven Clark sounds like he might be the punter from here on out instead of Ryan Shoemaker, who handled punts in the Tigers’ first four games.
Clark got his first college action at Kentucky, punting twice with mediocre results. His two efforts went for 32 and 36 yards. Both were fair caught.
“We’re going to go with who we think is the best guy,” Chizik said. “And we just felt like he’s been making a lot of progress in practice, and we felt like it was time. And we want a guy who’s going to be able to get some better distance and hangtime.”
Auburn ranks second to last in the SEC in net punting, averaging 34.1 yards.
Needs a kick start
Auburn’s kickoff coverage teams couldn’t stop Kentucky’s Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke, so the Tigers resorted to short kickoffs by the end of Saturday’s game to keep it out of their hands.
Cobb had returns of 36 and 28 yards. Locke had one for 40 yards.
“It’s the first time I’ve really seen a weakness in it in six games,” Chizik said.
Wes Byrum handled the opening kickoff before Auburn went with Cody Parkey the rest of the way. The true freshman averaged 63 yards per kick, compared to the 55 yards Byrum got on his only attempt.
Chizik still wants more.
“We’re always looking for a four-second hangtime on those,” Chizik said. “And distance to go with it.”
Auburn kickers have one touchback in 39 attempts this year.
Chizik said the Tigers were trying a reverse on the final kick return, when Demond Washington and Terrell Zachery fumbled the handoff, getting fortunate to fall on the ball at the 7-yard line.
“We had it walled off, we had it sealed off and we had one guy get penetration,” Chizik said. “We just felt like all night we were set up to be able to run it.”