1 -Corral those TBs – Through the years, Auburn has had a bunch of outstanding running backs. The Tigers have two more in junior Tank Bigsby and sophomore Jarquez Hunter. These guys can pound it and pound it, and both have the breakaway capabilities to hit the home run on a low risk play. You have to keep an eye on Bigsby and Hunter as receivers. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart talks about that “eye discipline,” and that goes double for this Auburn running back duo.
2 – Wall off Hall – As usual, the Tigers defense is chock-full of big time players who are strong and who can run. Derick Hall is at the top of the list. While the Bulldogs Jalen Carter and Alabama’s Will Anderson were the consensus top returning defenders and NFL Draft prospects when gauging defensive fronts around the league, Hall is right there in the conversation. He makes quarterbacks uncomfortable, racks up sacks and tackles for loss. Quick and standing 6’3, 256-pound, Hall is a load to block. He also has terrific ball skills, on display with a huge pick and return in Auburn’s win over Missouri.
3 – Crank it Downfield – Georgia’s downfield passing game must be on point again. In the Bulldogs last two victories over the Tigers, Georgia’s downfield strikes have been essential. In 2020, Stetson Bennett IV found George Pickens and Kearis Jackson. Last season, the game-breaker was a 60-yard scoring strike deep down the middle of the field from Bennett to Ladd McConkey. The big play, deep ball gave the Bulldogs a 24-3 lead in a 34-10 victory.
4 – Watch the Fake – Special Teams and turnovers are obvious. It’s a no-brainer in every game every week – the quickest path to an upset, especially if there’s a turnover in the kicking game. Stealing a possession or extending a possession can turn a game. Auburn comes in as the underdog, and the Tigers just may have something up their sleeves with reverses, flea flickers, halfback passes and especially trickiness in the kicking game. The Bulldogs must be en guarde.
5 – Guys be Guys – Big games like this one, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, are broken down extensively. There are so many factors that ultimately determine who wins and who loses, but at the top of the list, it’s the best players playing big in the biggest games. And in this rivalry, from Fran Tarkenton to Herschel Walker to David Greene to Thomas Davis to Roquan Smith, when the Bulldogs have beaten the Tigers, Georgia’s great players have been at their best in these legacy games.