Jackson on hand to hug new Tiger star
By CHRIS WHITE
AUBURN, Ala. — Running back Mike Dyer sat winded along the Auburn sideline after carrying the ball four consecutive times for 28 yards on a third-quarter drive.
By the time he caught his breath, he had caught Bo Jackson, too.
As it was announced that Dyer had broken Jackson’s school record for rushing yards in a freshman season, Jackson, on hand to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Heisman Trophy season, hugged Dyer and lifted his arm up to the crowd, which responded with roaring applause.
“To me, that’s one of the memories I’m always going to have when I think about Auburn when I leave here,” Dyer said.
Dyer finished with 60 yards on 13 carries in Auburn’s 49-31 victory. It gives him 859 rushing yards this season, putting him ahead Jackson’s previous record of 829 yards set in 1982.
Between Dyer’s record-breaking day and running back Onterio McCalebb, who had 71 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries, the Auburn running game had all the tools it needed to back up quarterback Cam Newton when Georgia’s defensive front caught the quarterback off guard or closed up his running lanes.
Newton was still the star of the Auburn ground game. He carried the ball 30 times — more than every other rusher combined — and ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
But having multiple weapons was key Saturday as Auburn rushed for 315 yards and five scores against a Georgia team holding opponents to 106 yards a game before Saturday.
“Really, Cam Newton does a great job of reading, taking holes and just going out,” Dyer said. “Onterio uses his speed to get to the outside, and once he does, it’s over with. I’m the guy that likes to run between the tackles.”
Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he was confident the Tigers’ running game could set the pace in the second half and stuck with it almost exclusively. Auburn’s first pass after halftime came nearly three minutes into the fourth quarter, and the Tigers ran for 186 of their 316 yards through the third and fourth quarters.
“I don’t know if that happened exactly the way we wanted it to, but we had some explosive plays in there where (Georgia) had to run down the field, get set and reset,” Chizik said. “So we did some things that we thought, with clock management and other things, would help us toward the end of the game.”
Auburn offensive lineman Mike Berry said it worked to near perfection. Georgia’s defense began to wear down and the Tigers continued building their lead, capping the scoring on a 1-yard Newton touchdown in which the quarterback leaped over the line to cross into the end zone.
“Once we get a first down, we kind of speed up the pace,” Berry said. “It’s one of those things where the D-tackles start to get tired and we start getting more movement on the D-tackles and getting up to the linebackers. That was one of the things that came into effect in the second half.”
Chris White, 706-571-8571; follow Chris online at twitter.com/le_chriswhite and facebook.com/lechriswhite.