State of the Hogs: He'll Try You

Jerry Franklin and Jerico Nelson don't expect Cam Newton to turn down contact. The Auburn quarterback comes to "ball."

Jerry Franklin didn't need to see any video cut ups of Cam Newton this week. The Arkansas junior middle linebacker had seen enough of Newton on a couple of TV games earlier this season.

"I watch him," Franklin said. "I knew what he'd be about. I knew it would be a great challenge, too."

Franklin knows his task will be difficult this week when the Razorbacks face Newton, the 6-6, 250-pound Auburn quarterback. The game is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Auburn.

It's going to be an all-day battle to get Newton to the ground. The SEC's leading rusher, Newton is hailed as a do-it-all quarterback who wants the ball in his hands for critical plays. So far he's been perfect, leading the Tigers to a 6-0 record.

"He's their work horse, a great player," Franklin said. "He's different than most quarterbacks. Most break out of the pocket and they are looking for a place to slide or go out of bounds. I haven't seen him do that at all. He's waiting for an opening even on pass plays. He will throw it, but it looks like he's ready to go (run) at any moment. He wants to slip out. If the pocket gets past him, he is going to slip out."

Newton is not only big, but he's fast and elusive.

"He will make you miss," Franklin said. "You try to come up on him too hard, he does have that wiggle like a tailback. You think you are on top of him and you aren't going to miss, then he gives you a hip and he's gone. So you can't load up too much. He's really fast and hard to get down and then he's big on top of that."

Franklin goes into most games hoping for a chance to hit a quarterback. Sometimes it doesn't materialize. That's not his worry this time.

"I think he'll hunt you up and try to deliver a blow," Franklin said. "He's not like a regular quarterback in that respect. He's so big that he likes the contact. He'll try you.

"He wants to challenge the defensive players. There ain't no slide to him."

There have been some comparisons made between Newton and Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson, another 6-6, 250-pound quarterback. Franklin wouldn't go there.

"Well, same size, but not the same style of player," Franklin said. "The guy last week wanted to throw it. He did keep it a couple of times but he went out of bounds. Newton, he wants to go 70 when he gets out. He wants to go. He might head to the sideline, but he doesn't seem to want to step out. We saw that several times on tape.

"His whole deal is get to the open and then try to go all the way. I've seen him do it, too."

Outside linebacker Jerico Nelson backed up Franklin.

"It just looks to me like Newton wants to be the man," Nelson said. "He's a physical runner who can also throw. If he can get out of the pocket, he's going to run it more times than not. He's not going to turn down any contact, either. He wants to deliver the blow, be the man.

"What I say about a guy like Newton, he can ball. He's the real leader on that team because of it."

The Hogs delivered more blows than the Tigers last year. In some respects, Nelson was the man delivering the blow. He had a play where he went into a tackle so hard helmets flew. His face mask got hooked with the Auburn helmet. The crowd went wild when the Auburn helmet flew back into the air, rolling on the ground for a few seconds.

"I've been asked this week on campus if I can do that again," Nelson said. "I told them we'll see. I'll try. You'll have to wait until Saturday to see."

Nelson knows Newton wants to produce a hit like that, too.

"Yeah, once he's in the open, he looks up guys and tries to run over them," Nelson said. "It's what everyone looks forward to in a game, a physical challenge.

"We'll need everyone to be right. We'll need everyone to swarm to the ball."

And be ballers.

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