LSU-Auburn: Can LSU Defense Stop Cam Newton and Auburn This Weekend?
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Not since the Florida Gators signed Tim Tebow out of Jacksonville has there been so much talk of one individual with the ability to change the fortunes of an entire team and college football as there has been with Auburn's signing of former Florida Gator quarterback Cameron Newton.
Much to the chagrin of the Florida Gator fans, the Gators had everything to do with Newton's arrival on the Auburn campus.
As a top-ranked quarterback out of Atlanta, GA, Cameron Newton signed with the Florida Gators in February of 2007 with the expectation of taking over for Heisman Trophy-winning Tim Tebow once he moved on to the pros.
However, after winning the 2007 Heisman Trophy, Tim Tebow surprised everyone including then-Gator quarterback Cameron Newton with his decision to return to the Gators for his senior year. This news would have more of a long-term effect than Urban Meyer and the Gator faithful could possibly imagine.
With Tebow's decision, Newton began discussing his future with his father and his family members, and he made the decision that it would be best for him to transfer to Blinn Junior College in Texas so he could get on the field and play while exploring his future college options.
After leading Blinn to the Junior college national championship, Newton was ranked as the No. 1 Junior College quarterback prospect in the nation, which certainly drew the attention of Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Gene Chizik.
Auburn was in need of a quarterback that could execute Gus Malzahn's offense and Cameron Newton was looking for the perfect opportunity to get back in the SEC where he could have a chance to compete for the SEC and national championships.
To make a long story short, Cameron Newton at 6'5" and 247 lbs, has become the most imposing and talented quarterback in the entire nation in just the first seven games of the 2010 season.
He not only has the Auburn Tigers undefeated and ranked No. 7 in the current AP poll, but his personal performances as both the top rusher in the SEC, and as one of the leading passers as well have been making national news.
Newton is now being considered as one of the leading candidates for the 2010 Heisman Trophy, especially after his 328-yard personal offensive performance against the University of Arkansas this past weekend.
Next up on the schedule for the undefeated Auburn Tigers will be an SEC West clash with the undefeated LSU Tigers in the annual "Tiger Bowl."
Throughout the first decade of the 2000s, the "Tiger Bowl" has been one of the most hotly contested SEC games in the entire conference. For at least five of those years, the winner of this game has gone on to win the SEC West title.
However, unlike previous years, there has never been an LSU vs. Auburn game that has featured such a game-changing star that can single-handily effect the outcome of the game like Auburn's Cam Newton.
Stopping Cameron Newton will be the unenviable task of LSU's coach Les Miles and his veteran defensive coordinator John Chavis.
The thing that makes Newton such a force is the athletic and physical prowess that he presents to go along with his very capable passing ability to find the open receivers. He will run over you, go around you or he will just throw the ball over you.
Some teams such as Kentucky and Clemson have seemingly found ways to stop or at least limit Cam Newton's personal effect on the game, so maybe LSU should study those games and try to develop a similar defensive plan.
LSU has the No. 1-ranked total defense in the SEC and they rank No. 1 against the run as well. So, Newton has not faced a speedy physical defense like the one he will face this weekend against LSU.
LSU can also cover the wideouts one-on-one and still bring pressure up the middle and they are also tied for the most sacks in the SEC.
After studying Cam Newton's style, it appears he actually prefers running the ball when given the opportunity, and of course this is the way he has created most of his damage to the opposition.
So, the very first thing LSU will have to do is keep Newton in the backfield and force him to find his open receivers without allowing him to take off running. If Newton has a weakness it is that he is not quite as accurate throwing the ball downfield as he is on shorter patterns.
Like all great athletes, it must be understood that you will not stop Cam Newton, but you can and must slow him down and force the other Auburn players to make plays to beat you...
It will be of the utmost importance that LSU has very sure tackling and containment from the defensive ends as Cam Newton is most effective when he can get in the one-on-one confrontations with the smaller cornerbacks.
I think the LSU defense has the best chance to stop or limit Cam Newton's effect on the game of anybody AU has faced to date, but it will take LSU's most complete and balanced effort to do that.
LSU's focus for victory in this game must of course begin with stopping Cam Newton, and then LSU should be able to move the ball very well against a good but not overly dominating defense.
Auburn's defensive front line is very strong against the run, but their defensive secondary has proven very vulnerable against the pass.
It is time for Coach Miles to remove Jordan Jefferson from the equation, and eliminate the two-quarterback system if LSU is to utilize the tremendous talent they have.
On every winning drive or touchdown-scoring drive, Jarrett Lee has proved without a doubt that he is the best quarterback to lead this team, and using Jordan Jefferson has just become a major obstacle to the success of this offense.
Simply put, if LSU can stop Cam Newton they can defeat Auburn this weekend, but it will take one of LSU's best and most complete efforts to accomplish that feat.
The winner of this game will decide the undisputed leader of the SEC West with a major opportunity to win the conference and certainly have the chance to play in the 2011 BCS National Championship.
As Cam Newton goes, so goes Auburn, as without his presence Auburn is just another good SEC team.
So, if LSU and Les Miles plan to finish their business in the SEC and play for their third BCS title, they must find a way to stop or slow down Cameron Newton in the 2010 "Tiger Bowl."
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