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Dual threats take center stage

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Tim Tebow (2007) and Eric Crouch (2001) both won the Heisman Trophy as athletic signal-callers, who were known more for their ability to run the football rather than pass it. Charlie Ward (1993) was a legitimate hybrid, with the ability to beat a team with his arm or his legs.

As the 2010 season has unfolded, it is becoming more and more likely that another multi-talented QB is going to win the most coveted piece of hardware in the game.

Dual-threat QBs are clearly the way of the future and are currently leading some of the nation's top programs. From Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor to Baylor's Robert Griffin III, to Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, to Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor, QBs are giving opposing defensive coordinators nightmares in trying to come up with a gameplan to neutralize them.

However, the ones at Michigan and Auburn are taking it to a new level and both Denard Robinson and Cam Newton are sitting atop the Heisman race as a result.

Denard Robinson has taken the nation by storm, with his gaudy stats in terms of total offense.
If the season were a sprint, the Wolverines' sophomore QB would already have the Heisman sitting on his mantle. Coming into the season, Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez had the luxury of a pair of talented signal-callers in Robinson and Tate Forcier. However, it is Robinson who has taken the nation by storm, with his gaudy stats in terms of total offense, including rolling up over 500 yards himself in the win over Notre Dame.

Heading into this week's action, Robinson is second in the nation in rushing (156.6 ypg), having gone off for 1,096 yards and nine TDs. He is 16th nationally in passing with a rating of 159.09, having completed 67.8 percent of his throws, for 1,319 yards, with an additional nine TDs. His style of play however, has led to him being nicked up in a couple of recent games, so the real question is whether or not the 6-0, 193-pounder (that listing is very generous) will be able to stand up when the season comes to a close.

Still there is no denying the numbers to this point and that kind of efficiency from the quarterback position is rare most seasons.

I think we are all finding out that 2010 is a little different, though. Any year that a pair of non-BCS schools (Boise State and TCU) are in a position to vie for a national title as November approaches has to be considered anything but "normal."

While Robinson burst out of the gates and seemed out of reach in terms of the race for the Heisman, Auburn's Cam Newton has been steadily gaining ground and may just be ahead of his counterpart in Ann Arbor at this point.

Buried behind a guy by the name of Tebow in Gainesville, Newton's decision to transfer has paid huge dividends for Gene Chizik and his Auburn Tigers.

The 6-6, 250-pounder looks more like a defensive end than a quarterback, but there is no denying his talent under center. Newton is second in the nation in terms of passing efficiency (180.93), having completed 65.6 percent of his passes, for 1,278 yards and 13 TDs. He has the ability to make all the necessary throws on the field, but that is probably the second-best thing he does. Newton is 11th in the nation in rushing (122.9 ypg), amassing 860 yards and 12 TDs thus far.

As the competition has moved into SEC action, Newton has actually gotten better, averaging 158.0 yards per game rushing, with 10 TDs (both league- highs). He is also the only player in SEC history to rush for three or more TDs in three straight league bouts. Newton is currently on pace for 1,474 yards rushing, which would obliterate the SEC record for rushing yards by a QB in a season, set by another Auburn signal-caller (Jimmy Sidle -- 1,006 yards), back in 1963.

Newton has LSU this week and Alabama in the regular-season finale. A big game against the Bayou Bengals will all but lock him into a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist. Doing the same against the defending national champions might just put his name on the award.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.

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