Louisville Cardinals running back Michael Dyer didn't start and played sparingly in the team's rout of Ohio on Sunday in the 2013 opener, but his explosiveness is an asset that should allow him to see the field more as the season progresses.
On just his second carry with his new team, and in his first action on the FBS gridiron since 2011, Dyer took a handoff to the left and exploded down the sidelines, scampering for a 46-yard touchdown.
The raucous crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium erupted as Dyer broke away from the hapless Bobcats defense to make the game 35-0.
It was Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who guided the No. 9-ranked Cardinals to a rousing 49-7 triumph by matching a career best with five touchdown throws.
Still, Dyer's breakout run was an extremely encouraging sign.
At 5'9", 215 pounds, the running back is a powerful force and can help bring balance to complement Bridgewater's precocious passing ability.
Senior Senorise Perry had 13 carries and 58 yards against the Bobcats and was the rightful incumbent starter after scoring 11 rushing touchdowns in 2012. But Perry is just 187 pounds and doesn't pack the same physicality Dyer does between the tackles.
Dyer has endured quite an unconventional road to Louisville for what marks his junior season. He had a promising start to his career at Auburn, where he ran for 1,093 yards and five touchdowns as part of the Tigers' national championship season in 2010.
Another strong campaign of 1,240 yards and 10 more TDs on the ground came in Dyer's sophomore year, but he was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
He was then dismissed after transferring to Arkansas State with former Auburn offensive coordinator and current head coach Gus Malzahn due to legal problems.
Now, after a year away from the game and an associate's degree in hand from Arkansas Baptist College, per College Football Talk's Chris Huston, Dyer has returned to the limelight as a member of a national title contender.
Dyer may be a greater talent than Perry, but not starting him was a rather savvy move by head coach Charlie Strong—and not only because Dyer joined the team so recently.
The chip on Dyer's shoulder to prove himself after such a long hiatus had to be prominent. In his prepared statement when he announced his transfer to Louisville, Dyer seemed intent on not letting Strong down (h/t CBS Sports' Chip Patterson):
I am ready to start a new chapter in my life. I have learned from my past and feel that Louisville is the best place to play the second half of my collegiate football career. I thank God for coach Strong's belief in me. I am not going to let him down.
Based on how Dyer flashed in such an immediate way, though—and given how well he complements Perry—Strong is likely to utilize his unique abilities more moving forward.