AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is in the middle of a media maelstrom in light of allegations this past week, but Auburn coaches and teammates haven’t noticed a change in their star player’s demeanor.
“As a matter of fact, he’s extremely motivated,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said Tuesday. “He had a good practice tonight, and he had a good practice last week. He’s very focused.”
Newton twice has been in the news this past week, first with questions surrounding his recruitment last year and most recently with allegations of academic misconduct while at Florida.
“We know Cam and that situation; we’re not worried about it,” linebacker Josh Bynes said. “It’s not a distraction.
“I don’t really care nothing about it. Because whatever it is, I know for a fact, just like everybody out here, that it’s bogus.”
Malzahn thinks the team has rallied around him.
“I think that is fair to say,” he said. “Our guys, they know what is on the line, and they have worked extremely hard to get to this point. Off the field stuff, I really don’t think will be a factor.”
In the meantime, Newton is going about his business as usual in preparing for Georgia.
“Cam is the same person to me,” wide receiver Emory Blake said.
Bates is back
Outside linebacker Daren Bates was back at practice and going full speed after missing the last two and a half games with a right shoulder injury suffered against LSU.
Jonathan Evans and Eltoro Freeman have filled in for Bates in the interim. Evans had five tackles against Mississippi and Freeman a team-high eight against Tennessee-Chattanooga.
That role could decrease with Bates back in the fold. The sophomore is tied for fifth on the team with 40 tackles.
“With Daren out, my role increased a little bit, but this week Daren is back,” Evans said. “So we’re just going out there and working hard, and whoever gets out there will play the best he can.”
No war of words
Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green fired off a salvo early this week, saying the Bulldogs were going to “shock” a lot of people this weekend.
“I know we’ve got a chance to win,” Green told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I feel like they haven’t faced anybody else like me and (quarterback) Aaron (Murray) with our offense. We’re really going to show them. We’re going to shock a lot of people.”
Auburn safety Zac Etheridge wasn’t going to start a war of words.
“We don’t get into that,” Etheridge said. “You’ve got to line up and play football, and then we’ll let our pads do the talking.”
Special Senior Day
Bynes’ father, Herbert, made the trek from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time in his son’s career last week on Senior Day.
Neither of Bynes’ parents had been able to make the trip.
“I don’t want people to think that my family didn’t come just because they didn’t come,” Bynes said. “Everybody’s not able to have their family come 13 hours away to come to every game.”
It was worth the trip.
“My dad’s never seen a crowd like this, ever,” Bynes said. “He’s a high school coach, so he’d never seen more than 20,000 at the most, maybe.
“But 90,000 people in the stadium roaring, and especially when he sees my name out there, I know it’s a great feeling for him.
“He enjoyed himself, had fun, and he’s trying to see if he can come back again.”