The Georgia Bulldogs take to the road to battle the rival Auburn Tigers with the SEC East title hanging in the balance for the Dawgs.
Auburn, on the other hand, is still looking for its first conference win of the season.
On paper, this should be a blowout of epic proportions. On the field, however, anything can, and often does, happen in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
Let’s take a look at five keys for Georgia against Auburn.
This is a key for every game for the Dawgs. Really, this is a key for any football team in any game. If you can’t run the ball, you usually can’t win.
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall need to come out and quickly establish the ground game for the Bulldogs. It’s been clear how dangerous Aaron Murray can be off of play action when the ground game is working.
Also, Auburn is dead last in the SEC in rushing defense, giving up nearly 200 yards-per-game. “Gurshall” should have a field day in this game against the Auburn defense.
Last week against Ole Miss, the offensive line gave up five first-half sacks. And even when the pass-rushers didn’t get a sack, they were laying hard hits on the Georgia quarterback all afternoon.
It bears mentioning that Auburn is 12th in the SEC in sacks while Ole Miss is second only to South Carolina. Still, the offensive line and the running backs have got to do a better job of protecting Murray in the pocket.
Murray is hardly a huge physical specimen built to weather those kinds of hits. The Bulldogs can’t allow him to continue to take a beating without it taking a toll before long. Georgia is going to need a fresh, healthy Murray if it wants any chance at winning the SEC Championship Game.
With Michael Bennett and now Marlon Brown out of the lineup for the remainder of the season, Georgia needs to use this game to get some more looks for guys like Rantavious Wooten and Chris Conley.
While Malcolm Mitchell and Tavarres King will still be the primary receivers for the Dawgs, so much of Murray’s success comes from going through his progressions and spreading the ball around. So, expect Wooten and Conley to see the ball coming their way plenty in the games to come.
With Auburn’s weak secondary, this will be a great opportunity for Murray to get in rhythm with these other receivers and boost their confidence moving forward.
Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace will get his second start for the Tigers Saturday against Georgia. While he played adequately enough to get the W against New Mexico State last week, Georgia’s defense is going to present him with considerably more problems than the Aggies’.
Also consider that Auburn is dead last in SEC in sacks allowed with 29 so far this season. Georgia needs to let Jarvis Jones and the rest of the linebackers off the leash with stunts and complicated blitz packages to confuse the freshman.
Auburn isn’t much of a threat to run the ball, so if the Georgia defense can rattle Wallace early, never let him get into a rhythm and force some mistakes, the Tigers will be lucky to muster any offense at all in this game.
This has been an unbelievably frustrating tendency for the Bulldogs lately, but they just can’t seem to help playing down to their inferior opponents, especially on the road.
Georgia needs to prove that it’s turned a corner and perform at Auburn like it did at home against Ole Miss. The Dawgs need to prove to the nation, and more importantly themselves, that they can put together a complete game in all phases no matter their opponent or the venue.
This trip to Jordan-Hare is the perfect opportunity for the Bulldogs to build off of last week’s performance and get on a roll headed into the SEC Championship Game.