Georgia football: 5 things that concern me about Auburn
One hurdle remains between No. 6 Georgia and a trip back to the SEC Championship Game. And it’s the Auburn Tigers, who await them at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the 124th edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
It was 1892 when these teams first met; only Minnesota and Wisconsin have played more often. It’s been back and forth in recent years, too: Georgia is seeking its 3rd consecutive win while neither team has gone on a winning streak longer than 4 games since Auburn rattled off 6 straight in the 1950s.
This is undoubtedly the toughest of Georgia’s remaining games and will set the tone for its final 2 contests against Texas A&M and Georgia Tech. It can accomplish a key step in getting back to the College Football Playoff by beating the Tigers on Saturday to secure its spot in Atlanta on Dece. 7, but then will also need to win out over the Aggies and Yellow Jackets. After that, who knows?
Here are 5 things that concern me as it pertains to how things could shake out for Georgia on Saturday:
Auburn’s performance against LSU
LSU and Alabama were involved in an absolute shootout Saturday, combining for 87 points. LSU’s 46 points against the Tide means that the Tigers have scored 36 or more points in every game except one.
The one team that held them to below the 36-point mark? Auburn, and that was in a losing effort, 23-20.
Georgia’s offense isn’t nearly as high-powered as LSU’s is. But despite giving up 508 yards of total offense in that one, Auburn’s ability to keep LSU somewhat hemmed in and keep it within striking distance deserves a mention.
Georgia’s inability to put teams away early
This is probably the most frustrating part about this Georgia team. While its defense is playing at an elite level, its 27-0 victory over Missouri on Saturday probably has a wrinkle that needs discussing.
In all honesty, Georgia should have been up more at halftime. The Bulldogs had a much bigger margin of error with Mizzou’s offense barely managing much through the air and on the ground, but it failed to convert a long drive into 6 points — and a big interception return by Richard LeCounte to the Tigers 18 a few drives later saw the Dawgs forced to settle for 3 once more.
Georgia should have been up 24-0 going into the locker room. It could give itself a huge boost if it’s able to build a large lead at Auburn through the first 2 quarters.
The play of Seth Williams
In his second season on The Plains, Williams has developed into a primary receiving target for true freshman quarterback Bo Nix. The sophomore has had 60-plus yards and 1 or more touchdowns in 4 of his past 5 games. He was held out of the end zone against Ole Miss, but still finished with a respectable 6 catches for 46 yards.
Williams is 10th in the SEC with 569 yards receiving. He is 5th in yards per catch (16.26). He also has a total of 8 touchdowns, 3 behind Alabama’s DeVonta Smith. All that to say that he has the ability to carve up the Dawgs’ secondary if they’re not careful.
Auburn’s rushing defense
It’s not as good as Georgia’s. Then again, few teams can boast a run defense as good as the Bulldogs. That being said, don’t sleep on these Tigers as they’re pretty adept themselves at stuffing the run game.
The Tigers are allowing just 112 yards rushing per game. They’re just outside the top 20 nationally and are 3rd in the SEC. They’ve held 4 opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing.
While Auburn’s allowed 187 to LSU and 167 to Ole Miss over its past 2 games, the Bulldogs will still need to be on guard and be ready to attack this part of the Tigers defense.
Auburn’s rushing offense
One of the crowning achievements of this Georgia team is its aforementioned elite run defense that ranks among the best in the country. On Saturday against the Tigers, it will receive a massive test.
The Tigers are 20th in FBS in rushing yards per game and 2nd in the SEC with 219.3. That’s even without Boobie Whitlow, who hasn’t played since sustaining an injury against Florida. True freshman D.J. Williams has stepped in, and all he’s done across his 4 games this year is record 303 yards for 55 carries, an average of 5.5 yards per attempt. Senior Kam Martin could also play a role out. Bo Nix contributes, as do the wideouts on jet sweeps.
As if that’s not enough to worry about, there’s a chance Whitlow could be back.