- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Dyer's absence certainly is a blow to Auburn's struggling offense. He was the most consistent player for the Tigers this season, becoming the first Auburn player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in his first two seasons. The sophomore also went from scoring five touchdowns in his first year, to scoring 10 this season.
Dyer was the only other SEC running back besides Alabama's Trent Richardson to average more than 100 yards rushing in SEC games this season. He also accounted for more than half of Auburn's offense this season.
Now, Auburn's best weapon won't be available for a game that could set the tone for Auburn's 2012 season. With Dyer out, the Tigers will turn to junior Onterio McCalebb and freshman Tre Mason. McCalebb is no stranger to getting a handful of reps, as he has been Dyer's sidekick the past two seasons. McCalebb is second on the team with 532 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while Mason, who has rarely been used in the running game, has 97 rushing yards.
McCalebb is a home run threat and Mason is more of a downhill runner, but neither is as complete as Dyer. Dyer entered the season with much more responsibility thrust onto his plate after the departure of key offensive playmakers.
Dyer was second in the SEC in rushing (1,242) this season and didn't mind taking the bulk of the carries in his second season. But his mistake has cost the Tigers dearly. Auburn is looking to get some momentum going into next season, and this doesn't help. Auburn not only loses its best offensive weapon against a Virginia team with the nation's 30th-ranked defense and 34th-ranked rush defense, it loses a player who is supposed to be a leader.
All eyes have been on Dyer this season and he let his team down. Dyer is young and he'll have time to redeem himself, but he has to realize that he is the face of the Tigers' offense -- if not the entire team -- and he can't let foolish acts hurt him and his team.
Auburn running back Michael Dyer has been indefinitely suspended for violating undisclosed team rules, and will miss the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia.