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Friday, October 1, 2010

Auburn's running back picture becoming clearer

I wrote a story for today's newspaper about Auburn's running back situation, which is clearing up. Here's how it starts:
AUBURN, Ala. — A pecking order has emerged among Auburn’s running backs, and it’s not the picture coaches painted in the offseason.

Days after he had career highs with 23 carries and 100 yards, Mike Dyer officially ascended to the top of the depth chart, a promotion on paper only, considering the freshman started Auburn’s previous two games.

“We felt confident enough to give him the ball 20-plus times the other night,” coach Gene Chizik said. “I think he’s getting better every week. We’ve just got to continue with that progression with him and continue to let him play and get the experience he needs.”

It’s a departure from Auburn’s offseason chatter, when senior Mario Fannin was trumpeted as the next in line of the Tigers’ great backs. Running backs coach Curtis Luper even promised a 1,000-yard season for Fannin.

But through four games, the senior has nine carries for 25 yards, two fumbles and a nagging left shoulder injury.
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MikeP said...

In the off season, the coaches had to blow smoke concerning Fannin. If Dyer had proved not college-ready and McCalebb's leg injury persisted, Fannin would have been the only option at RB. Fannin and the fans had to be prepared.

A number of long-time Auburn fans felt that Dyer and O-mac would be carrying the RB load and Fannin would be doing something else very soon into the season. It only took until the first game.

This is not a knock on Fannin. He's a good Auburn man and does what he does to the best of his ability. He simply does not have the knack for playing RB, and that's been obvious for several years.
Mario Fannin did not ask to be declared "a beast". He did not ask to be called "Super Mario". I'm sorry he was put into that position, but many people who are observers of the Tigers pretty much knew that RB is not Mario Fannin's position.

Why so many fans refused to open their eyes and be objective about Mario Fannin's last four years is a mystery to me.

Anonymous said...

Agree with MikeP. He's still an outstanding receiver/blocker, and he probably could be a good option RB with Cam.

Anonymous said...

Oh and wanted to add, O-Mac needs to learn _how_ to run. He's plenty fast but he looks ridiculously undisciplined. He needs some good structured learnin'. Luper can probably drill that into him. Although, maybe not, since we're talking about 2 years here now. Watching him run is kinda frustrating, it looks like he's all legs akimbo. Watch a Chris Rainey or Jeff Demps and look at the differences.

Anonymous said...

Got to give Auburn coaching staff credit - not many coaches are able to admit mistakes and most are waaaayyyy too hard-headed to admit when they've made a mistake in judgement (aka Brandon Cox and BBQ gang, Kenny Irons can't pass protect in the USF game, Tristan Davis at DB, etc, etc, and on and on). Letting Dyer tote the rock/load could be the biggest play call this season. (Now if they can force themselves to quit telling Cam to get down and not take hits, that will be the 2nd biggest play call of the season). Swallow your pride and ride the horses you have.