An old-school beat-down occurred in Sanford Stadium this past Saturday night. A snarling group of rabid big Dawgs destroyed any chance for the Auburn Tigers to compete with their arch-rivals from the East. Georgia’s offensive and defensive lines stood up and shut down Auburn. It was a physical whipping for the ages, and it all started with the lines of scrimmage.
Auburn rushed 22 times for 39 yards. Thirty-nine yards rushing, and their quarterback was responsible for eight (net) of that total. If there was ever dominance in that phase of the game, it happened Saturday in Athens. The Dawgs put on a line-play clinic with the Tigers playing the part of a tackling dummy on defense and a blocking dummy on offense. Yes, Auburn made some plays, but in the final analysis, they were out-played, and that’s all there is to it.
On offense, Georgia started (from left tackle to right tackle), Jamaree Salyer, Justin Shaffer, Trey Hill, Ben Cleveland, and Warren McClendon. McClendon edged Owen Condon for the start, but Condon played much of the second half while McClendon was cramping. According to Coach Smart in his postgame presser, the redshirt freshman from Brunswick could have returned, but it was not necessary – the game was in hand. The Bulldog offensive line did not play perfectly, but they consistently made their blocks and drove Auburn off the ball for 202 on the ground and kept Stetson Bennett’s jersey clean while he amassed 240 yards passing.
On the other side of the ball, the Junkyard Dawgs ran Auburn’s quarterback all over the field when he tried to pass and built a stone wall against the rush. Jordan Davis was unmovable. Not only did he consistently occupy two Tiger offensive linemen, but he frequently beat double team blocks and created penetration that sealed the interior of the line. By engaging and defeating Auburn’s offensive linemen, the defensive front forced the Plainsmen to pin their scant hopes on a passing game in the face of a fierce rush from linebackers who often had a free run at Bo Nix. As Jordan Davis once said, “Two on me, somebody’s free.” He was right. There were free runners in Nix’s face all night.
A complete trashing of Auburn was just what Georgia needed as the Dawgs prepare for the Volunteers from Knoxville. Confidence matters, and after a less than convincing win in Fayetteville, kicking the Tigers back across the river should bode well as the season moves on.