Back from an injury, Joe Newton is ready to catch some passes
CORVALLIS - Joe Newton may be, as broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit said during the Oregon State-Boise State game, the best tight end in college football. But he's not Superman.
The 6-7, 260-pound senior can pancake defensive ends and catch passes and score touchdowns, but he can't rescue a flailing team that doesn't seem willing to put up a fight.
Oregon State's 42-14 loss at Boise was an eyesore, but Newton expects nothing like it Saturday when the Beavers play host to Idaho at Reser Stadium.
'I think we'll play well,' Newton says of Oregon State's first game in 16 days. 'I'm just excited to play a game and come out and be able to redeem ourselves. It's not important who the opponent is. It's important that we improve our performance against whoever we play.'
After missing last season with a foot injury, Newton has caught eight passes for 87 yards, including a touchdown in each of the first two games, and hasn't dropped a pass. His health is no longer an issue, he says.
'It's business as usual,' he says. 'The foot feels great - like new.'
After catching five passes for 57 yards and a TD in only a half of Oregon State's 56-17 rout of Eastern Washington, Newton was the recipient of just three passes at Boise.
'Boise State was pretty aware of Joe, as teams ought to be,' says assistant coach Jay Locey, who coaches the tight ends. 'They accounted for him a few times with two or three guys.'
Newton knows he has to be a big weapon if the Beavers are to go far this season.
'I feel like I played a good game at Boise,' the Roseburg native says. 'I only had three catches, but one was for a touchdown, and I blocked pretty well. (Boise State) focused on me, and to some extent it was effective. It's on me to be able to get off (defenders) and get open when teams do that.
'But if I'm double-covered, there will be other open receivers. I don't worry about number of catches for what I consider a good game.'
Quarterback Matt Moore didn't have Newton a year ago, and OSU tight ends didn't catch a TD pass all season.
'Joe makes a world of difference,' Moore says. 'With his experience, he knows most of the stuff in our offense and how the ball is going to come to him, and that makes it easier for me. There is nonverbal communication between the two of us in the split second before I throw the ball, so it's kind of easy.
'He was open a couple of times (against Boise State), and I missed him. He'll be a big part of our offense Saturday, but Idaho knows who he is. My focus is to go through my progressions, but if he's open, he's going to get the ball.'
Locey stopped short of saying the OSU game plan will include more of Newton.
'The No. 1 thing is to take what's given to you,' Locey says. ' 'Ev' (tailback Yvenson Bernard) is a very good receiver, and our three wideouts are good. We just need to get into a rhythm with our passing game. But with Joe, you can create some offense around him because he is such a weapon as a receiver.'