Usually a routine Tuesday afternoon press conference with Gene Chizik wouldn’t be worth its own post, but we also don’t usually get a newly solid feel for what Auburn’s planning at one of the highest-profile positions on the field.
And, OK, maybe “solid” is pushing it. Chizik didn’t come right out and say “We’re going to start–and start feeding carries to–Mike Dyer.” But you almost don’t even have to read between the lines, in my opinion:
“Just watching him carry the football in game day in traffic, he doesn’t look uptight or nervous in any type of way. He just runs really natural. … He’s just really assumed his role up to this point.” Will his role expand? “I think circumstances in the game will determine that. We certainly feel confident enough for that to happen.”
The verbatim quote varies a little bit on who you’re reading–“If that’s what his role becomes this week, he can handle it” per Jay Tate, “He’s ready for his role to expand, and the coaches trust him if that were to happen this week” per Justin Hokanson–but the theme is identical: Chizik is ready and willing for Dyer to take over the workhorse role. It’s one thing to get that sense from his quotes about Newton; it’s another for him to come out and publicly admit it. If Chizik’s willing to admit that Dyer could be The Man, it’s an excellent bet that he already is.
You’ll also notice he didn’t say anything about either McCalebb or Fannin other than to demur on whether Fannin would be healthy enough to play. I’m going to keep on hoping that both of those players can maintain an active role in the backfield; Lord knows they’ve earned it, and if Auburn can get back to the Malzahn platonic ideal of running 80 plays a game and handing off 30-40 times, they’ll get to. (McCalebb, in particular, has done nothing to get his carries cut. I know he struggled with his footing in Starkville, but he’s still averaging more per-carry than anyone on the team who hasn’t had a walk-in 70-yard touchdown)
But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already giddy over the chance to see Dyer get to punish Clemson over the course of 20-25 carries, or if I didn’t think this is the decision that will give Auburn the best chance at victory. Someone’s got to be this team’s Ben Tate. I’m ready to watch that person be Mike Dyer.
Photo by Van Emst.