Georgia-Auburn: Georgia's Defense Comes Back to Reality

Josh RutledgeCorrespondent INovember 9, 2009

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Rennie Curran #35 of the Georgia Bulldogs against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Last Saturday, Georgia held its opponent to 55 total yards. Too bad it was Tennessee Tech.

This Saturday, it's back to reality.

The Auburn Tigers come to Athens with a 7-3 record and one of the most innovative offensive systems in college football.

Led by offense coordinator Gus Malzahn, Auburn's offense has sparked the Tigers to key wins over Ole Miss, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Six times this season, the Tigers have scored 30-plus points. Two weeks ago, Auburn put up 33 points against an Ole Miss defense that had not surrendered more than 22 points all season.

It's an offensive system that capitalizes on defensive mistakes—not good news for Georgia.

Against Tennessee, Georgia struggled against play action. That type of play is conservative for Auburn.

To beat Auburn, Georgia's defense will have to give its most monumental effort of the season. Beating Auburn requires more than one or two special players. It requires a collective team effort, the type of effort not seen by Georgia's defense all season.

Most importantly, Georgia will have to find a way to stop Auburn running back Ben Tate. Tate has rushed for over 1,000 yards on the season, averaging 5.6 yards a carry.

His bruising style opens the field for play makers like Kodi Burns and freshman speedster Onterio McCalebb. 

Quarterback Chris Todd is a game manager. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. His job is to get the ball to Auburn's play makers.

Georgia can't simply hope for Todd to make a lot of mistakes. They have to pressure him to force mistakes.

Defensively, Auburn doesn't pretty too many challenges. Without question, the Tigers are led by their offense, not their defense. Georgia will have plenty of opportunities to put up points.

But Georgia cannot afford to get into a shootout with Auburn, such as the games against Arkansas and South Carolina.

Arkansas and South Carolina built big leads against Georgia, but they were not able to hold them, largely because they were pass-oriented teams that left a lot of time on the clock.

Auburn is not built like that. They're a methodical offense that can chew up clock time if necessary. It's not the big plays that will hurt Georgia. It's the consistent barrage of five and six yard gains that will hurt them.

No defense has been more maligned this season than Georgia, and there is no possibility to finish to the season in a way that would repair the wounded pride the Bulldogs' defense has felt all year.

But pride is all Georgia has left, and it starts with their defense. Picking up the pieces has to start now, and there's no better opportunity than to do it against an offense like Auburn.