StatTiger: Dyer's Run At the Record Book

Michael Dyer

After a terrific freshman season, Auburn running back Michael Dyer is back for encore after his record-setting performance for the national champion Tigers.

On his seventh carry during Auburn's 2010 football victory over the Georgia Bulldogs, Michael Dyer established a new freshman rushing record for the most yards gained during a season.

Dyer broken the record in 131 carries compared to Bo Jackson's 127 carries during 11 regular season games. Dyer averaged 6.33 yards per rush during his first 11 regular season games and Jackson averaged 6.53 yards. Bowl games were not counted towards individual statistics back in 1982 when Jackson played, but if they did Jackson would have finished the season with 893 yards on 141 carries.

Dye gained 886 yards on 146 carries 12 games into the 2010 season before finishing with 1,093 yards on 182 carries with his strong performance in Auburn's 22-19 victory over Oregon to with the BCS national championship.

In the process of setting the record, Dyer became only the eighth running back in Auburn history to breach the 1,000-yard barrier with fewer than 200 rushes. No other Southeastern Conference team has as many 1,000-yard rushers with fewer than 200 carries as Auburn does, placing Dyer in some elite company.

It should also be noted that the previous seven Auburn running backs to reach 1,000 yards on less than 200 carries were eventually drafted into the NFL. Since 2000 only 17.7 percent of the 496 major college running backs to surpass the 1,000-yard mark did so with less than 200 rushing attempts and Dyer was one of only four freshmen to reach 1,000 yards during the 2010 season.

Entering his sophomore year Dyer should be more of a focal point of the Auburn offense. Jackson saw a 21.6 percent increase in his carries from his freshman season to his sophomore year. If Dyer sees a similar increase in rushing attempts, he will be looking at a 220-carry season. Prior to last season Gus Malzahn's leading rusher from the running back position had been responsible for an average of 43.6 percent of the rushing attempts, which could translate to 240-250 carries for Dyer in 2011.

Nick Fairley (left) and Michael Dyer show off their MVP Trophies at the BCS title game in January.

A frequently utilized Dyer could pay huge dividends for the Auburn offense when you consider he was No. 2 among the 45 running backs with 1,000 yards rushing in fewest yards lost, No. 7 in running plays of 10 yards or more, No. 11 in runs of 20 yards or more and No. 13 in first down runs.

No one expects Dyer to be the next Bo Jackson at Auburn, but he is off to a great start to become one of the most successful running backs at a program commonly known as Running Back U. During the 2009 season Auburn running back Ben Tate ran the football 263 times and was targeted 28 times in the passing game. Plugging Dyer into a similar role would likely translate to a 1,400-1,500-yard season on the ground and an additional 200 receiving yards. With quarterback Cameron Newton's early departure, Dyer will likely become the heart and soul of Auburn's running attack. The combination of Dyer and Onterio McCalebb will remain a formidable force for the Tigers.

Already on Dyer's resume are All-SEC Freshman honors, SEC Champion, BCS National Champion and Most Valuable Offensive Player of the BCS National Championship Game. Over the next three years Dyer has the opportunity to rewrite a portion of the Auburn record book while being part of a very special era of AU football with one of the best combinations of offensive coaching and talent in school history. The starting running back in a Gus Malzahn offense has always prospered in the coordinator's system and Dyer has right physical skills to make the most of it.

If he matches what he accomplished during his freshman season during the next three seasons, Dyer will leave Auburn as the Tigers' all-time leading rusher. Auburn fans witnessed the Auburn coaches slowly breaking in the newcomer last year and increasing his playing time as the season progressed. There is no telling what he will be capable of as he continues to mature physically and mentally.

Dyer averaged 5.3 yards per rush during the first half of the season and 6.6 yards during the second half. He has the potential to grow into a Rudi Johnson type of back, possessing similar late game qualities as the former Auburn star. Dyer averaged 4.8 yards per rush during the first half of his games and 6.83 yards during the second half. His ability to become stronger later in the game could be a huge plus for the 2011 offense.

The former Little Rock, Ark., Christian star runs the football for the Tigers.

A key for Dyer and the 2011 Tigers will be spreading the wealth so that running back will be fresh enough to close out football games, especially late in the season. This is why McCalebb is a valuable factor in the offensive equation and has been since he arrived for the 2009 season. Though Dyer is capable of carrying the football 25-30 times during a game, Coach Malzahn will want to keep him at a 15-20 pace to insure Dyer has a full tank of gas late in the season.

Auburn's offensive identity in 2010 was centered around the big-play ability of the quarterback. In 2011 the identity will be centered around Dyer although Malzahn may have the opponent thinking otherwise. The surrounding skill players will be Auburn's "jab" and Dyer will become the knockout punch.

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