Well friends, we are finally here. We are at AMEN corner. Auburn and Georgia have met 116 times and the series is even at 54-54-8 with Georgia winning six of the last seven. Mark Richt, Georgia Head Football Coach is in his 13th Season and is 3rd winningest active football coach in FBS. He has a 74.3 winning percentage is a thing of envy for any college football fan.
Georgia comes into Saturday’s game at (6-3, 4-2 SEC). The losses have come to Clemson (Wk 1), Missouri (Wk 6), and Vanderbilt (Wk 7). The losses were by – 3, -15, and -4 respectively.
On the offense:
Georgia’s offensive coordinator is Mike Bobo who has been at Georgia since 2001. Mike Bobo was a former Georgia quarterback and four year letterman from 1994 – 1997. He was the MVP of the 1998 Outback Bowl and holds several Georgia passing records. During that bowl game UGA faced off against Wisconsin and won handily 33 to 6. As a senior in 1997 he threw for 2751 yards on 199 completions in 306 attempts and had 19 TD to just 8 INT. Mike Bobo has a track record with quarterbacks. He has coached other at UGA like David Greene, D.J. Shockley, and Matthew Stafford. Coach Bobo likes the top view down into the stadium and is in large part the reason why I think he calls his plays from the press box.
Georgia’s offensive scheme is a multiple look. And unless you have done your homework you will most likely see things like the I-formation with two tight ends, four wide, bunch formations at wide receiver, twins, trips, and so on. It won’t matter how they line up because they bring into the game a physical run game and one of the most prolific passers in the history of the SEC.
Speaking of Aaron Murray, his favorite targets are wide receivers Chris Conley (6-3, 206lbs. Jr.), and Michael Bennett (6-3, 205lbs. Jr.). Both have been out this season but both are back and in fine form. Murray also has other targets… such as Arthur Lynch (6-5, 254lbs, Sr.) and tailback Todd Gurley (6-1, 232lbs. Soph). Gurley has 101 carries in six games this season and averages 6.2 yards per carry.
Besides the talented play makers, Georgia’s core strength this season has been its offensive line. They have played together for awhile. At last tally Georgia’s O line has a combined average of 138 combined starts. Not to mention that this unit has only surrendered 5 sacks in the last seven games.
On the defense:
The Georgia defensive coordinator is Todd Grantham who is in his fourth season as a bull dog. While under fire earlier this season from the Georgia faithful, Grantham has quietly held eight of nine opponents under their season average in total offense. Grantham mastered the legendary 3-4 defense from his stint serving as a defensive coach in the NFL for at least 14 years with teams like Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, and the Dallas Cowboys. He got his start serving at his Alma Mater, Virginia Tech.
The strength for Georgia on Defense is the front seven. Traditionally they will run the 3-4 defense and blitz. But occasionally, on passing plays, Georgia will slip to a 4-3 and rush only the front four. Georgia is no slouch on defense. This season they have amassed 26 sacks.
On Special Teams:
Georgia’s field goal kicker is exceptional. He rarely misses. And on kick returns they have talent as well.
So, how does this game go down?
This will be AU’s biggest test so far. If AU comes out flat… watch out! This could be a blow out the other way… it wouldn’t be the first time. While AU has been in a shootout and won, Georgia hasn’t fared that well. In their encounter with a potent offense, in both cases… they lost against Clemson and Missouri. The tell card is Gurley… and his ability to run.
On offense Georgia will be aggressive. Look for Georgia’s offensive line to battle in order to establish the line of scrimmage and open up the running game. They will open up holes…although they won’t drive anyone off the ball, so it will be up to AU’s linebackers to stop the run and shut down Gurley.
Bobo’s strategy will be to establish the running game which will set up Murray nicely to use the play action pass. With all of his major hitters back, look for UGA to meet with success.
Auburn and Coach Ellis will have their collective hands full. It will be interesting to see how AU handles this situation because UGA will score.
On defense you can bet that Grantham will try to shut down AU’s vaunted read option. They will do this using the 3-4 schemes. Depending on how aggressive it is will determine how well Marshall can read it and make the call. I suspect this will give Marshall some fits and he will probably get popped for a loss more than we care to count. If AU can move the ball on the ground… that means UGA can’t stop the run. And if that is the case… UGA will have a long day. But if Georgia can slow down or stop the run game, AU will have to use the only choice available to it – go to the air.
The good news is that AU’s offensive line should have no problem, even when UGA is in the 4-3 to provide pass protection. The bad news is that our receiving corps hasn’t really broken any records this year… nor has there been a need too. Even Coach Malzahn has stated publically that he knew it would eventually come down to “can AU throw the ball”. On Saturday we will find out. I don’t need to remind anyone how Marshall fared during the LSU game. We will see if Nick chokes in front of the school and players he was initially recruited to play for… or shines for his new home becoming legendary player in the series for Auburn in the process.
On offense, for Auburn to win, it will have to be productive on 1st and 2nd downs. We will use the run to set up the play action pass. Don’t look for AU to drop back and throw out of the pocket…
On defense, for Auburn to win, it will have to stop the run and Gurley from keeping drives alive. But they will also have to be on the watch for the pass. Our defensive backs must be able to look for the ball in passing situations in the coverage protection. How many times have we all seen the over the shoulder throws Murray is very capable of making. Additionally, our front four will also have to put pressure on Murray and even sack him occasionally in order to keep him honest.
Auburn must remain cool under fire. The trash talk during this game is extreme. Georgia players are the best at it in the SEC (right behind LSU). Discipline. Focus. These are the corner stone’s to what wins games for AU. These young men need to keep the penalties under control.
Yes, we are at AMEN corner. This is what differentiates the seasons for Auburn from poor, to mediocre, to excellent. Win here… for this season anyway, it’s a BCS game for sure. And who knows what happens in the Iron Bowl? That is a year away it seems. And right now, it doesn’t matter. But lose here… well, there is always a 1 Jan bowl game. And Auburn has certainly earned it.
As Pat Dye said… this game is like fighting your brother. It’s hard fought. It can be downright bitter. It’s the Deep South’s oldest rivalry… the one hundredth seventeenth edition of the Auburn vs. Georgia game. And there is pay back in the air for the last 38-0 drubbing we took… I look for AU to win a squeaker… 45-41.
And BEAT THOSE CHEATING DAWGS!
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