Auburn football: 5 things that concern me about Georgia
If you were just following the headlines heading into Saturday’s Auburn-Georgia game, things would start to sound familiar: the Bulldogs are in control of the SEC East, the Tigers need to make a statement at home to keep their slim Playoff hopes alive and, of course, Gus Malzahn is at the center of a coaching search by Arkansas.
Basically, it is 2017 again, and the only difference is that Kirby Smart’s team isn’t ranked No. 1.
There’s a lot still on the line in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry when they meet on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium and, for the Tigers, a lot to be concerned about with the 8-1 Dawgs. Here are the 5 things that should worry Tigers fans the most.
1. Auburn’s ability to score against UGA’s D
Just looked at the numbers. Georgia’s defense is dominant: 260.3 yards per game (5th in FBS), 74.56 rush yards per game (4th in FBS) and 10.1 points per game (2nd in FBS). Yikes!
Coming off a bye week, Malzahn will have to have an original game plan to move the ball against Dan Lanning’s side, not the same ol’ things we have been seeing lately. He will need to put Bo Nix in good situations, including revving up the running game to create short-yard situations that are easily manageable. If he doesn’t do that, goodnight Irene.
2. Swift. Swift. Swift.
D’Andre Swift seems to enjoy playing against Auburn. Last season, he went for 186 yards on just 17 carries, and Tigers’ fans will never forget his back-breaking run for a touchdown in the 2017 SEC Championship that clinched the game for the Dawgs.
The Tigers will have to stop him and put the game in Jake Fromm’s hands. But do that at their own risk because …
3. Height advantage of Georgia receivers
Georgia has some major height at the wide receiver position, including 6-5 Lawrence Cager (assuming he’s healthy) and 6-3 George Pickens, who caught 2 TDs last week. This gives Fromm big targets to throw to and, when it comes to jump balls, those two are going to win the battle most of the time over the Tigers’ smaller defenders, especially when they play the “face guard the receiver” defense.
As it was against LSU’s receivers, it will be a mighty test for the Auburn secondary.
4. Nix in another big-game situation
Auburn won’t win without Nix making some major throws. Youth is no longer a factor — this is his 10th game as a starter in college — and the Bulldogs will force him to win the game. Youth can’t be an excuse, either. His counterpart, Fromm, led Georgia to the national title game as a freshman.
Look for Lanning to load the box up to stop the run and make Nix beat them with his arm. He threw for a career-high 340 yards against Ole Miss, but didn’t pass for a TD. The Ole Miss game might have given the quarterback some confidence, but how will he perform against another top defense?
5. UGA jumping ahead early
To keep the Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd in the game, the Tigers will have to fight off a big start by Georgia for two reasons: The offense can’t keep up with this Bulldogs offense point-per-point and some resignation and frustration in the stands will rise if Smart’s team gets a 10-point or more lead.
The Tigers have the power on defense to stop the Bulldogs, that is no question, but they tend to tire once the offense keeps sending them back on the field after another futile possession.
Keep the crowd in it and the stadium and its noise will be a weapon.