ATLANTA -- Gene Chizik said Monday that Auburn is turning to junior Onterio McCalebb, freshman Tre Mason -- and perhaps a surprise or two -- at tailback following the suspension of All-SEC starter Mike Dyer.
“We’ve moved on,” Chizik said.
Chizik, in Atlanta to promote Auburn’s Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Virginia, said he’ll give more work to McCalebb and Mason in practice.
“We feel confident in some young guys that will step up,” Chizik said.
“We’ve got some other guys right now that we’ll be kind of evaluating here in the next two weeks, seeing exactly what part they might be able to play to help. This is a great challenge for some of our younger players.”
Dyer joined Alabama’s Trent Richardson as Associated Press All-SEC first-team running backs after he had 1,242 yards rushing with 10 touchdowns.
Chizik would not provide details Monday on Dyer’s indefinite suspension announced Sunday for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Chizik said Dyer can return next season if he fulfills certain obligations.
“If he does the things we’ve asked him to do, you’ll see him back in a uniform,” Chizik said. “If he doesn’t, you won’t.”
Auburn finished fall semester final exams Friday. Chizik would not say if Dyer is academically eligible.
Mason (5-10, 190) had 19 carries for 97 yards in eight games. The freshman never had more than four carries in a game but still showed potential, according to Chizik.
Asked if Mason is ready for a bigger role, Chizik said “Well, he’s going to have to.
“He’s very confident. The playing time that he got this year was invaluable, no question about it, and he showed flashes at times this year where he was very capable of stepping in and being a fill-in guy. Now between him and Onterio, we’re going to have to amp up the number of reps.”
McCalebb (5-10, 172) had 532 yards rushing with four touchdowns and 30 catches for 291 yards this season as a junior. He had 810 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in Auburn’s 2010 national championship season.
Chizik said there’s no panic because the Tigers have extra time to practice before the Dec. 31 bowl game.
“We have enough time to work,” he said. “It’s not like it’s game week and we’ve got three days of practice.”
Chizik wouldn’t identify the other players he planned to evaluate at tailback.
“You’ve got different options out there with some guys that we’re looking at,” he said. “I’m not going to say exactly what that is yet, so we’ll see the first few days of practice where we are. We’ve got some talented guys on offense. We can do a few different things.”
Chizik is serving as linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for the bowl game. Ted Roof was hired as Central Florida’s defensive coordinator on Thursday.
“I did that for so many years, I just kind of jump back on the horse and go back at it,” Chizik said.