The Bulldogs kick off their final quarter of the regular college football season with Auburn at 3:30 pm at Sanford Stadium. And if Georgia wants to start this three game home stand with a win, here are my five keys to victory for the Dawgs.
1. HOLD OFF THAT FIERCE DEFENSIVE FRONT
One of the biggest keys to Auburn’s success in 2016 is the play of a talented and deep defensive line. It’s a two-deep front and then some. Adding to it, a slew of these standouts are Georgia natives, including Carl Lawson and Montravious Adams. Georgia struggles on the offensive line have been well documented. First year Bulldogs O-Line coach Sam Pittman is amongst the best in the business, and in the near future, the Bulldogs figure to boast a great front. The veterans on this line must pull together, play their best and at least create enough stalemates for the Georgia offense to have success.
2. SLOW DOWN THAT POWER RUN GAME
Auburn’s rushing attack has been one of college football’s best, ranking amongst the top five in the country. A physical offensive line will take aim at Georgia’s outstanding, improving and talented young defensive front. Auburn’s big backs have put up big numbers this season and are the centerpiece to a Tiger attack that has dramatically improved this season. Georgia’s run defense will have to be at its best, slowing down the power between the tackles.
3. GET THE TIGERS OFF RHYTHM
If the Bulldogs can do the above, the defense has a chance to slow down the Auburn offense. When the power game is there, the up tempo Tigers can really get rolling. It’s big for Georgia to come up with some negative yardage plays, via sacks, forced holding penalties and low yardage first down plays. If Auburn is playing second-and-four football, the Bulldogs are in big trouble. If it’s second-and- nine, the defense, third-and-six, the defense can turn things Georgia’s way.
4. SWING THE PUNT GAME
One of the biggest struggles for the Bulldogs this season has been the punt game, on both ends. The not-so-hidden yardage has been a not- so-silent killer, giving the opposition substantially shorter fields to play on. For a Bulldog team that doesn’t boast great firepower or margin for error, winning the field position battle on punt exchanges is essential for a strong close to the 2016 campaign.
5. BIG PLAYS ON OFFENSE
Some of the issues facing the Bulldogs offense make long, sustained drives, especially against this Auburn defensive front, a tough chore. These elite tailbacks, though finding holes will be tough, Isaac Nauta and the tight ends, and speedsters on the perimeter have to turn in some explosive plays, eating up big chunks of yardage. Surprisingly, there haven’t been more of those this season. Saturday would be a great time to turn that for the home stretch between the hedges.