Freshman Focused On Team Goals

Auburn running back Michael Dyer discusses his unbeaten team' success as the Tigers prepare to play in the SEC Championship Game.

Auburn, Ala.--After escaping its closest call of the season with a thrilling 28-27 road victory over Alabama, the Auburn Tigers turn their attention to the Southeastern Conference Football Championship Game and a rematch with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

One of the reasons that Auburn defeated Coach Steve Spurrier's team on Sept. 25th was that freshman Michael Dyer ran the football 23 times for 100 yards in a 35-27 victory. The Tigers racked up 334 rushing yards that day with Cameron Newton leading the charge with 176 and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Onterio McCalebb added 55 yards on seven runs.

Despite outperforming South Carolina freshman star Marcus Lattimore, who was held to 33 yards on 14 carries, Dyer went out of his way to down-play his role in the victory or say that he won a personal duel with the Gamecocks' star.

"I am not an individual player," Dyer noted, adding, "I just try to do what my coaches ask me to do and I have always been like that since high school."

This season Dyer's coaches and a teammates have talked to all of the freshmen about playing together in a team concept. After watching that Tigers rally from 24 points behind to win at Alabama and improve to 12-0, Dyer noted that he is a believer in how playing together has helped the Tigers stay unbeaten.

"It's a family thing and a team thing," the freshman said in explaining Auburn's latest victory on the road at Alabama. "No matter what the situation, no matter how much adversity we face, everybody on this team is going to go out and play their hearts out," he said.

Dyer admitted it was frustrating to watch his Tigers fall behind 24-0 in the second quarter vs. Alabama with the offense struggling to make first downs, much less touchdowns. "That just made us play harder and try to get back on the right path," he said.

Michael Dyer needs 114 more yards to reach 1,000 for the season.

He said the Tigers re-grouped at halftime, with the help of an excellent halftime speech from Newton, and then played much better the rest of the game as the Tigers scored on the second play of the second half.

"We needed to find our rhythm and once we did that we knew the game was over with," Dyer said.

The running back credited the defense with stepping up and making the win possible by limiting the Tide to 67 total yards in the second half. "I thought our defense did a tremendous job of letting our offense get back on the field so we could score," the freshman running back said.

Heading to Atlanta, Dyer is Auburn's second leading rusher with an AU freshman record of 886 yards. He is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has scored five touchdowns.

Waiting to stop him and the Auburn offense is a 9-3 South Carolina team that comes into the SEC Championship Game with a three-game winning streak including a 29-7 victory over Clemson on Saturday night.

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