Is Cam Newton on track to be better than Tim Tebow was in 2007—the year he won the Heisman Trophy? It's an easy debate to get embroiled in lately as Cam Newton has set the SEC ablaze this season with both his arm and his legs.
He's carried the Auburn Tigers to new heights, in just his first year, and the Heisman Trophy chatter that surrounds his name has gone from a dull whisper to an all-out roar.
Some feel that the honor is already Newton's to lose. It's much the same as when Tim Tebow won it in 2007 as a true sophomore. The stats No. 15 put up in Gainesville that season didn't seem natural for any football player—regardless of the system.
Tebow was a god in 2007, and there were few who believed that any player would come close to doing what he did, back then, anytime soon.
Enter Cam Newton, who, through nine games already has more rushing yards, on less carries, and is a mere nine touchdowns away from matching Tebow's 23 rushing scores from that prolific 2007 season.
That said, it seemed fitting to see just how closely these two players really are in what they were able to do in their respective seasons.
Cam Newton: 9 games, 168 carries, 1122 yards, and 14 touchdowns
Tim Tebow: 13 games, 210 carries, 895 yards, and 23 touchdowns
A lot of Tebow's damage came on third downs. He used his body to power his way through the line on either a designed bootleg or draw play or via the option. He was built to withstand the punishment and became very skilled at simply knocking guys over on his way to a first down.
Newton, by contrast, can flat-out run the ball. He's as dangerous with the ball in his hands as a running back as he is as a passer. He's got the size, the speed, and the elusiveness to break one at any time and that makes him tough to defend.
2010 Regular Season Projection: 236 carries for 1,616 yards, and 21 touchdowns.
Cam Newton: 108/162 for 1,573 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions (Pass Eff. Rating: 172.61)
Tim Tebow: 234/350 for 3,286 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions (Pass Eff. Rating: 172.47)
Tim Tebow had guys like Louis Murphy, Percy Harvin, Cornelius Ingram, and Andre Caldwell at his disposal in 2007—finding a legitimate target to get the ball to that season was not a problem.
On the contrary, it was a bigger issue just keeping the many speedsters on present on their talented roster happy with the touches they did get.
Cam Newton has Darvin Adams (mainly) and then a conglomeration of guys who may or may not be considered as legitimate—Terrell Zachary has made a small contribution this season, but no one else has really stepped up. Acknowledging that point makes explaining the rushing yards Newton has amassed this season, much easier.
Even so, there is no denying the arm and accuracy of Tim Tebow during his time at Florida.
2010 Regular Season Projection:135/207 for 2,024 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions
Strength of Schedule:
In 2007, Florida had the toughest schedule in the SEC and finished the season 9-4:
Auburn, arguably, has the toughest schedule in the SEC this season and they are, currently, undefeated:
If the Tigers manage to finish the season without a loss, Newton will have navigated a slate that is every bit as challenging as what Tebow faced—except with less weapons to compliment his play.
Points Responsible For:
Cam Newton: 180 total points (through 9).
Tim Tebow: 330 total points.
There is no denying how important each player was/is to his team. During his sophomore year, Tebow was responsible, on average, for 25.38 points per game. Cam Newton, so far this season, is responsible for 20.00 points per game.
Both players led the SEC in that category.The difference between them is the way Newton has taken over games.
Tebow had a way of rallying guys and getting every one on the field ready to make plays—he was a team focused guy. Newton is content to put the team on his back and find a way to make it happen—all by himself.
He's been successful at doing so thus far–at least four of the Tigers' wins are a direct result of what Newton has been able to do with his own skills to guide him.
Is Cam Newton better than Tim Tebow was a mere three seasons ago? That point is debatable.
However, there is no doubt that Newton deserves to be sitting front-and-center come Heisman time. His presence is the one certainty that cannot be denied.
What say you?
(This article appears courtesy of The Lady Sportswriter).