No BS: Cocks can score

Like the moon, South Carolina's football season can be separated into distinct phases. Call them B.S. and A.S. The first phase, Before Syvelle, saw the Gamecocks underachieve offensively. The second phase, After Syvelle, has seen them eclipse expectations.

Before Syvelle Newton moved from wide receiver to quarterback, Carolina had about as much firepower as a toy pistol. Once he assumed the QB duties in Game 4, however, the Gamecocks became a howitzer.

Consider:

In Games 1 through 3, Carolina averaged 14.0 points per game. With Newton at the helm, the Cocks averaged 29.3 points in Games 4 through 7.

In Games 1 through 3, Carolina averaged 296.7 yards of total offense per game. With Newton at the helm, the Cocks have averaged 387.8.

In Games 1 through 3, Carolina averaged 93.7 rushing yards per game. With Newton at the helm, the Cocks have averaged 173.3.

In Games 1 through 3, Carolina converted just 33.3 percent of the time on third down. With Newton at the helm, the Cocks have a 55.1 percent success rate.

Since Carolina coach Steve Spurrier loves the passing game, one of his first acts after taking the Gamecock reins in 2005 was moving Newton – considered more of a runner than passer – to wide receiver.

When the 2006 offense sputtered with Blake Mitchell at quarterback in Games 1, 2 and 3, however, Newton returned to quarterback and quickly proved he can throw the ball quite well. He has completed 72 of 114 attempts (63.2 percent) for 1010 yards and 10 touchdowns to date, with only four interceptions. His passer efficiency rating of 159.51 ranks second in the SEC.

Newton's career stats show 2,168 passing yards, 686 rushing yards and 666 receiving yards – making him one of four players in NCAA history to surpass 600 yards in each of the three categories. The others were Georgia's Hines Ward, SMU's Kyle Rote and Ohio's Dave Juenger.

Newton is clearly the most versatile quarterback Tennessee has faced since Georgia's D.J. Shockley shredded the Vols last season. Thus, containing Newton will be Job One for UT defenders in Saturday night's game at Columbia.

"Any time you have a quarterback who can run it's going to be difficult," Vol linebacker Jerod Mayo notes. "He adds a different dimension to the game."

Newton showed that dimension in last weekend's 31-13 defeat of Vanderbilt – passing for 133 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for 40 yards and another TD. Still, Mayo is convinced Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis will devise a plan to corral the elusive Gamecock quarterback.

"We don't know what it is right now," Mayo says, "but you've got to contain him somehow.

"We haven't seen one this year like him … maybe D.J. Shockley (last fall). He's that kind of guy."

What separates Newton is that he's not just an athlete playing quarterback. He's an athletic quarterback who can throw the ball as well as run with it. If a cornerback overplays the run, Newton simply throws the ball over his head for a long completion.

"When most athletic quarterbacks start to run, they're not going to throw the ball," Mayo says. "But he can run and throw, and that adds a different dimension to the game."

Having faced Newton three times previously, senior linebacker Marvin Mitchell knows the 6-0, 210-pounder is as slippery as a wet bar of soap.

"He does a great job scrambling," Mitchell says. "Not only does he do a great job scrambling, but he keeps his head up looking downfield, always trying to get the ball to open receivers."

Obviously, a key for Tennessee's front seven will be to pressure Newton without leaving seams for him to dart through.

"We've got to do a good job rushing in our lanes," Mitchell says." It's much more difficult to defense when you've got a guy that can run."

Vol safety Jonathan Hefney was playing high school ball in Rock Hill, S.C., when Newton was playing in nearby Wallace. Thus, he and the Gamecock QB go way back.

"Newton runs the ball pretty good," Hefney says. "I used to watch him in high school, and I knew he was good, but I didn't know he would do everything he has been doing."


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