The Big Five – Auburn

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The Big Five – Auburn

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Linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52) and nose Chris Mayes (93) make a tackle during Georgia's game against Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Auburn, Ala. (Photo by John Kelley)
Linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52) and nose Chris Mayes (93) make a tackle during Georgia’s game against Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Auburn, Ala. (Photo by John Kelley)
[su_spacer size=”40″] Georgia and Auburn will resume the Deep South’s oldest football rivalry (and it’s all even at 55-55-8) Saturday at 12 noon (CBS-TV) at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium and, to say the least, it’s been a disappointing 2015 for both the Bulldogs and Tigers.
[su_spacer size=”40″] While Mark Richt’s Bulldogs, after the 27-3 romp over Kentucky, enter the contest at 6-3 overall and out of the SEC East title race with their 4-3 league mark, Gus Malzahn’s Tigers have struggled to a 5-4 season mark and just 2-4 ledger in SEC West.
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Auburn, however, is coming off an impressive 26-10 road win at Texas A&M this past Saturday night. The Tigers have also beaten Louisville (31¬24), Jacksonville State (27-20), San Jose State (35-21) and Kentucky (30-27) while losing conference tilts to LSU (45-21), Mississippi State (17-9), Arkansas (54-46, 4 OTs) and Ole Miss (27-19).
[su_spacer size=”40″] In the Saturday win over the Aggies, Auburn led 14-3 at the half before having to settle for four field goals in the second half by Daniel Carlson.
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Tigers returned some eight defensive starters but just three offensive regulars from last year’s also disappointing team, which finished 8-5 and 4-4 in the league. Junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6-5, 230) was predicted to be one of the nation’s best this season but after struggling early on, was replaced by redshirt freshman Sean White (6-0, 200) who had passed for 1,063 yards entering the A&M game Saturday night, but with only one touchdown pass. Johnson, however, returned as the starter and went the entire game in College Station while completing his first nine pass attempts.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Sophomore tailback Peyton Barber (5-11, 225), an Alpharetta, Ga. product, is far and away Auburn’s leading rusher, having totaled 787 yards and 12 touchdowns entering the game against the Aggies. Likewise, Ricardo Louis (6-2, 215, Sr.), who had the Immaculate Deflection touchdown to beat the Bulldogs two years ago), is far and away the Tigers’ top receiver this fall. He gets able help in that department from also senior receiver Melvin Ray (6-3, 215).
[su_spacer size=”40″] Leading stoppers for the Auburn defense include top tacklers Johnathan Ford (6-0, 203, Jr. safety), Kris Frost (6-2, 240, Sr. OLB), Cassanova McKinzy (6-3, 253, Sr. MLB), Jonathan Jones (5¬10, 181, Sr. CB) and Montravius Adams (6-4, 296, Jr. NT), who hails from Vienna, Ga.
[su_spacer size=”40″] If the Tigers plan on avenging last year’s stinging 34-7 loss to the Bulldogs in Athens, here are the Big Five factors they must achieve to do so:
[su_spacer size=”40″] 1. Attack Georgia’s Up-and-Down Offense
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Bulldogs hadn’t scored a touchdown in eight quarters before the Kentucky game. Win the battles against Georgia’s offensive front and smother the Bulldog tailbacks before they get started. In other words, go with Florida’s game plan.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 2. Pressure, Pressure on the UGA QB
[su_spacer size=”40″] Whether it’s Greyson Lambert or Brice Ramsey dropping back to pass, get in their face and make them get rid of the ball before the Bulldog receivers get into their intended routes.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 3. Pound the Rock with Peyton Barber
[su_spacer size=”40″] It goes without saying your leading rusher will be primed to show out against his home-state school so get Barber going early on by providing him good running space between the tackles.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 4. Feed Off the Jordan-Hare Home Crowd
[su_spacer size=”40″] It’s always loud, and then some, in the Loveliest Village on the Plains so use the energy of the large Auburn crowd to take your game to still another level while, at the same time, hoping it rattles the Bulldogs’ performance.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 5. Remember the Dismal 2014 Night Between the Hedges
[su_spacer size=”40″] Think back to November of last year when two backs named Todd Gurley (before he tore an ACL) and Nick Chubb literally ran your Tiger defense into the ground. Georgia has neither this time around (though you still have to deal with Sony Michel) so Tigers, be the aggressor and take it to the Dawgs from opening whistle and payback will be sweet!
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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.