Mike Dyer ran for 151 yards on only 16 carries against Clemson on Saturday.
Head coach Gene Chizik doesn’t think that’s nearly enough.
Chizik said he expects Dyer’s role to increase in upcoming weeks, with the sophomore shouldering more of the offensive load.
“He’s running fresh and well and you can expect him getting the ball more as we move forward,” Chizik said, adding that Dyer is not hurt.
Dyer averaged 9.4 yards on his 16 carries, with runs of 52 and 45 yards. But he didn’t start and didn’t get an overwhelming number of carries considering his production.
“Anybody who wants to lead the offense wants the ball in his hands more,” Dyer said. “I just do exactly what my coaches tell me to do, and if it’s giving to me more than 25 times, I would definitely like it.”
In the first three games, Dyer has carried the ball 14, 18 and 16 times. The coaches said last year that he’s capable of being a 25-to-30 carry guy.
“(That’s) conceptually where we’re at,” Chizik said. “That doesn’t mean the defense is going to let us do that. Provided we get the looks we need to be able to run certain run plays — that’s part of the equation.”
Chizik didn’t give a number of carries he’d like to get Dyer, just that he wants to include him more.
“He was very productive, as we all know,” Chizik said. “That’s the reason I’m saying our aim is to get him more.”
Here are more notes and quotes from Sunday’s interviews:
- Fullback Ladarious Phillips and cornerback Jonathan Rose did not make the trip to Clemson because of an undisclosed violation of team rules. “I will re-evaluate (their) status today and tomorrow,” Chizik said. “And we’ll see.”
- Phillips, a 290-pound redshirt freshman, has piqued fans’ curiosity without doing much on the field. He played some in the first two games in the H-back spot held by Eric Smith last year. Rose, a true freshman who enrolled last January, has been in Chizik’s doghouse since August. He didn’t play in the opener but saw minimal action against Mississippi State.
- Linebacker Jonathan Evans didn’t travel to Clemson because of a shoulder injury and is day-to-day. The junior had 15 tackles in the first two games. “As soon as we can get him back in the lineup, it’s important for us to do that,” Chizik said.
- Linebacker Jawara White didn’t make the trip because of an undisclosed injury.
- Cornerback Chris Davis (head, leg), tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen (ankle) and T’Sharvan Bell had to be helped off the field at various points of Saturday’s game. “Several individuals right now are at that point in the year where they are nicked and bruised,” Chizik said. “But that’s what comes with the territory at this time.”
- Quarterback Barrett Trotter also took some shots. He said he was sore today but OK. He said part of that was him holding the ball too long and part missed blocks on the line.
- Freshman QB Kiehl Frazier continues to get an expanded role. He took three Wildcat snaps, keeping one of them for 3 yards. Auburn wants to expand his role as the season progresses. “We’ve got a lot of games left,” Chizik said. “Him expanding the role in the offense is something we certainly want to be able to do. His role in that will be critical as to whether we do or not. That’s him just getting better at understanding what we’re trying to do and continuing to grow.”
- As you’d expect, Auburn’s players weren’t in a great mood after losing for the first time in nearly two years Saturday. “It was a real eye-opener,” Bell said. “The winning streak, I didn’t really pay attention to that, but once you feel that feeling (of losing), it’s like man, it’s been a long time since I felt this way.”
- The Tigers watched film of Saturday’s loss, in which they gave up 624 yards and had multiple mistakes in all three phases of the game. “I thought we did some things really well and other times it breaks your heart to see how close we were to making a play work and getting an extra 10-15 yards, where we ended up with a negative play,” Trotter said. “Not good for us. We’ve got to fix that and make sure those type of things don’t happen.”
- The players think a change can be made by watching film, not by making big speeches. “As far as getting up talking, being a hoo-rah, it’s not nothing like that,” said defensive end Nosa Eguae, one of three returning starters on defense. “It’s going out there and doing the little things right and the young guys will follow.”
- Interesting stat: Auburn has never allowed 34 or more points in three straight games. Not in more than 100 years of football.
- Defensive coordinator Ted Roof, as you can imagine, is not pleased with the performance. He took the blame for it after the game yesterday and did so again Sunday. “You always start with yourself first and look in the mirror and work from there,” he said.
- More Roof on the defense: “The good news is it’s all fixable. And we want it fixed today. But there’s no magic pill or magic dust that you just sprinkle on. It’s just a process we’ve got to work through, that we’ve got to continue to grind. We’re all part of it. We all own it. We’ve just got to keep grinding it out to get it fixed.”
- Tackling is a big issue. Roof said what Auburn teaches isn’t any different than other teams. “It’s physical, it’s aggressive, and at the same time, there are some common fundamentals of keeping a base, keeping your head up, wrapping up and running through, tracking the proper hips,” Roof said. “We don’t have any different way of tackling. There are some common denominators of good tackling and good tackling teams.”
- T-Bell diagnosed the tackling problems: “Guys leaving their feet too early, or just taking wrong angles. Running to space and not the guy. There a lot of reasons guys miss tackles.”
- Chizik said the team’s pass rush has been very average. Last year, it was a strength. Not only that, the Tigers were able to do it by sending only four down linemen. “For us, we’re just going to have to go out there and if we get one-on-one opportunities, we’ve got to get past them,” Eguae said. “We’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback. That’s what this league is about. That’s what we’re working everyday to do.”
- Roof said that goes hand-in-hand with the coverages. If one thing is off, the whole defense suffers. “Part of the blitz is hitting the right lanes, attacking, pop the pads, all the things that go into that and the coverage element also,” he said. “The coverage isn’t where it needs to be to force the quarterback to hold onto it for an extra second.”
- He said Auburn has blitzed a higher percentage in the first three games that it did last year. It’s not getting as much production, that’s for sure. The Tigers have two sacks in three games, tied for 102nd nationally.
- Third downs? Hoo-boy, they’re bad. Auburn has allowed opponents to convert 35 of 55 third downs. That’s 63.6 percent, worst in the FBS. “Third down is the money down,” Bell said. “And if you can’t get off the field on third down it makes it really hard to win the game because then you have to go another six or eight plays and then guys are tired and not running as hard, not playing as hard, not getting lined up. It just takes a toll on the whole defense and that’s a big thing for us.”
- The offense isn’t so great at third downs either, converting only 35 percent of the time (12-for-34), which is 90th in the FBS. “We’ve got to keep the chains rolling,” Trotter said.
- Trotter thought the offense missed some major opportunities on offense. “It’s kind of that bittersweet where you say, ‘Gaw, if we had done this or this, we’d have had 15 yards on this play. We might could have gone down and kicked a field goal or scored a touchdowns,’” he said. “So yeah, in that part it’s good, but at the same time you say that you’re so close to winning that it kind of just breaks your heart that you didn’t get it done when you had the chances.”
- Auburn has found success on the sweep play to Dyer. The touchdown run against Mississippi State and his two long runs Saturday against Clemson were on similar sweeps to the right side. “Our offensive line does a great job of blocking and it’s kind of hard to find me behind those big guys,” Dyer said. “Once I see that little hole, that little crease, I just try to hit it full speed and try to come out of it.”