AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn cranked up its Cam Newton-for-Heisman campaign last week, having the quarterback do a national teleconference and launching a website.
Head coach Gene Chizik thinks the best thing he and his coaches can do to help Newton win the Heisman is to continue to do what they’ve been doing.
“At the end of the day, it is a team award and the best thing we can do to promote any of our guys for any of our postseason awards is to continue to try to give them a plan every week to win,” he said.
Newton made a strong push for Heisman consideration after running for a career-high 217 yards in a 24-17 win against No. 6 LSU on Saturday.
He leads the SEC in rushing with 1,077 yards and leads the nation with 14 rushing touchdowns and 27 touchdowns accounted for.
“Do we have a guy that warrants that?” Chizik said of Heisman consideration. “Absolutely. There’s no question about it.”
Chizik said it will be important to manage Newton’s time as his media demands increase in the upcoming weeks.
“At the end of the day, he’s got to do the things that are going to help him be the quarterback at Auburn,” Chizik said.
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Chizik didn’t give an injury update on linebacker Daren Bates, who left just before halftime after injuring his right shoulder.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
Bates, a sophomore, suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder last year against LSU but played through the pain for the remainder of the season.
Jonathan Evans and Eltoro Freeman are potential replacements if Bates cannot play.
Cornerback Neiko Thorpe had a bounceback game against LSU following a tough afternoon against Arkansas. The junior made six tackles and had one pass breakup.
He did it all with a bulky cast on his left arm/hand, after suffering an undisclosed injury last week.
“I felt like he’s playing in kind of an uncomfortable situation,” Chizik said. “He’s beat up. ... But as a DB, sometimes that can get in your mind.
“He came back after last week and had a chance to make that pick there early. Gained some confidence. Was able to spin out of some blocks and make tackles on the perimeter.”
Mike Dyer reached 100 rushing yards Saturday against LSU, but it was an extra effort play in the third quarter that caught the coaches’ eyes.
The freshman took a handoff into a pile and continued to churn his legs.
Eventually the offensive line, and even Newton, joined in the push, moving the pile a good 6 yards down the field.
“That run right there maybe shouldn’t have even gotten a yard,” left guard Mike Berry said.
It was the physical kind of running coaches had hoped to see this year out of their running backs.
“Mike runs with his shoulders so low,” Chizik said. “He runs low to the ground, he’s extremely powerful.”