Auburn 35, Samford 16: News, Notes and Quotes

Comments from Michael Dyer plus news and notes from Auburn's Homecoming victory are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Much was expected from Michael Dyer when he signed with Auburn out of Little Rock Christian Academy in Arkansas two years ago as one of the top-ranked running backs recruits in the country. Thus far, the 5-9, 210-pound sophomore has delivered.

After a sluggish start by the Auburn offense in the first half of Saturday's Homecoming victory over Samford, Dyer piled up 115 second-half yards on 18 carries on his way to a 157-yard rushing game on 30 attempts. The Tigers led only 14-10 at the half before outscoring the Bulldogs 21-6 after intermission for a 35-16 win.

With that effort, Dyer moved into 10th place on Auburn's all-time rushing list. Dyer has 2,287 yards in his 25-game career. Ironically, he moved past James Joseph, an assistant under former Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan on the Samford staff.

After the game Dyer admitted he wasn't aware of Joseph or that he had reached Top 10 status. Joseph compiled his yardage from 1986-90 before heading off to a stint in the NFL.

"Being in the Top 10 is one of those deals where I'm real proud of myself to accomplish that," he said. "The offensive line did a great job allowing me to achieve some goals tonight and becoming a running back that can break some records.

It was the 10th 100-yard rushing game of Dyer's college career, tying him with Rudi Johnson and James Bostic in Auburn history for that statistic. Dyer has also rushed for more than 150 yards five times, including four this season. With 1,194 yards this year, Dyer is 14th in yards rushing for a single season. With 19 more rushing yards he can move into the top 10 for season rushing yards.

The Offensive MVP of Auburn's National Championship Game over Oregon last season as a true freshman, Dyer said he really doesn't know a reason that the Tigers started so sluggishly against Samford.

"Maybe it was starting almost in morning time (noon kickoff)," he said. "I guess everybody was still waking up," he added with a smile.

The Tigers cranked up the running game in the second half, operating with quarterback Clint Moseley under center several times rather than taking the snap from a shotgun formation.

"We've been working on that some," Dyer said. "It's part of our offense, but we ran it a lot more today."

Early in the third quarter the change in strategy was evident, but it almost was negated by an apparent Dyer fumble that was overturned because his knee was down before the ball came loose. He ran the ball seven straight times after the near miscue to cap a 75-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown.

"I was upset with myself," Dyer said. "I thought I had turned the ball over and wanted to get back out there and put another drive together. I wanted to show my team that we could go out there and win."

Next up for the Tigers is Alabama, which will come into Jordan-Hare Stadium next Saturday in its bid to get into the BCS National Championship Game despite a loss earlier this season to LSU. The Tide will put up a 10-1 record against Auburn's 7-4 mark.

In other news and notes from Auburn's 35-16 victory over Samford:

*Junior running back Onterio McCalebb wore No. 22 rather than his normal 23 in honor of defensive back T'Sharvan Bell, who had knee surgery earlier this week after being injured against Georgia. McCalebb also sported the colorful orange and white socks that Bell wore. Starting in Bell's place was redshirt freshman Jonathan Mincy.

*Starting at left outside linebacker was true freshman Justin Garrett in place of Jonathan Evans, who wasn't full speed and was held out of action. Garrett missed five mid-season games when he was banged up, but returned for action against Ole Miss and Georgia in the two games previous to Samford. Garrett finished with five total tackles, including one for a loss of a yard.

*Auburn improved to 26-0-1 against Samford. The two teams hadn't met prior to Saturday since the Tigers' undefeated season in 1993, a 35-7 win for the Tigers. The tie came in Birmingham in 1927 when the final was 9-9. Samford's 16 points marks the most points the Bulldogs have ever scored against Auburn. The most previously scored by the Bulldogs against the Tigers came in a 33-14 loss in 1926.

*Pat Sullivan, who won Auburn's first Heisman Trophy in 1971 and was honored prior to the game on the 40th anniversary of his award, is only the second Heisman Trophy winner to coach against his alma mater. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was the first former winner to coach against his school against Florida in 2005. Spurrier won the Heisman in 1966.

*Seventeen Auburn seniors were honored prior to the game with presentation of footballs and their families on the field. Recognized were Chandler Brooks, Sam Brown, Quindarius Carr, Drew Cole, Jake Drum, Jared Cooper, Eltoro Freeman, A.J. Greene, Josh Harris, Davis Hopper, Chris Humphries, Bobby Ingalls, Brandon Mosley, Vance Smith, Neiko Thorpe and Jay Wisner. Only Carr, Cooper (who is out for the season with an injury), Freeman, Mosley and Thorpe have been starters, while Harris is the deep snapper.

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