Auburn might be a 1.5-point favorite for the Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup vs. Virginia, but expect these odds to start moving in the opposite direction, as Auburn continues to bleed key personnel. A week after news broke that former Auburn Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof would be leaving to take a DC position at Central Florida, it's now being reported that Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn will be stepping down to take on a head coaching position back in his home state, at Arkansas State. A formal announcement and press conference is scheduled for later this afternoon.
This won't come as much of a surprise for Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik and company, as Malzahn was heavily recruited for head coaching positions following the 2010 season, reportedly turning down opportunities at both Vanderbilt and Maryland. That season, Auburn finished No. 1 in the nation in passing efficiency, No. 5 in rushing offense and No. 7 in total offense, also leading the SEC in all three categories. Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, no doubt, was a large part of this.
But so was Auburn tailback Michael Dyer, who was indefinitely suspended earlier this week for violating undisclosed team rules. He will not be playing on New Year's Eve. As a sophomore this year, Dyer amassed 1,242 rushing yards in 242 attempts, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He also had 10 touchdowns and is a first team All-SEC selection. As a freshman last year, he picked up 1,093 rushing yards in 182 attempts (6.0 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. He was also the BCS National Championship Game Offensive MVP, as a true freshman.
Dyer is the SEC's second and country's 22nd leading rusher. This year's Auburn offense has been nowhere near as productive as last year, ranked 104th in the country in total offense. Still with, Chizik already taking over defensive playcalling duties, he's going to have a lot on his plate when they face the Hoos in under three weeks.
For ongoing coverage of Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers, visit Track'em Tigers.