Coaches Kirby Smart and Hugh Freeze expressed their thoughts on the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry this past week. The two coaches admitted that the animosity between the two programs is not as extensive as in other rivalries across the country. This is certainly disappointing to hear as a student at the University of Georgia, because from a fan’s perspective, there is undoubtedly no love lost between Georgia and Auburn.
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry began in 1892 when Georgia played two games that year against Mercer and Auburn. The Bulldogs, known as the Goats at the time, went one and one in those two outings, beating Mercer 50-0 and losing to Auburn 10-0. The rivalry with Auburn continued, earning it the nickname “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” Georgia currently holds a head-to-head record of 63-56-8.
During this past week, Georgia players expressed their thoughts on the rivalry and shared their experiences playing in the game. Tramel Walthour spoke on behalf of the rivalry, explaining that he’s a Georgia native and he’s playing for his state. Walthour emphasized that the rivalry has a rich history and is always a physical game, which, as a defensive end, he loves.
Dan Jackson also shared his thoughts regarding playing against Auburn. He described the fan base as similar to Georgia’s and mentioned his eagerness to play in Jordan-Hare again this Saturday. Jackson told the media, “It’s always a battle every time we go there, no matter what. I got to play there two years ago, and I’m grateful for that experience.” Jackson’s veteran presence will be relied upon to calm the nerves of the Georgia defense in one of the most hostile SEC environments.
As Jackson mentioned, this game is never easy for the Bulldogs. Auburn has an extremely physical defense, but offensive deficiencies led to their loss in College Station. Hugh Freeze, an offensive-minded head coach, is certainly better equipped to address issues on that side of the football, so it should be expected that Auburn will make significant adjustments when the Bulldogs come to town.
War Eagle/Tiger fans will be rowdy and energized, believing that they have a shot to knock off the number one ranked team in the nation. Georgia will need to build off the offensive rhythm they generated during the UAB game to exploit Auburn’s defense, which is currently ranked 13th in the SEC in rushing defense. Daijun Edwards will once again play a critical role in the backfield. The sooner the Bulldogs’ offensive line can create gaps for Edwards, the more efficient Georgia’s offense will be.
On the defensive side of the football, Georgia needs to contain Payton Thorne and Robby Ashford. Both quarterbacks are extremely dangerous when using their feet and frequently look to escape the pocket. Eliminating the Tiger rushing attack is the key to a Georgia victory. If the Dawgs can find a way to win, they will have Tiger fans leaving Jordan-Hare as disappointed as the day they were denied admission to the University of Georgia.