Well, it's been an interesting week hasn't it? Rumors are flying, the message boards are melting servers, and no one seems to know whether or not the team is actually going to wear black jerseys on Saturday.Black jerseys? Well, as long as they don't look "frumpy."
Did anyone forget there was a game this weekend?
With all the talk of "what not to wear," the severe injury situation has gone under the radar. The biggest news you may not know is that Quinton Banks, Kade Weston, and Donovan Baldwin are all out due to their injuries. Weston and Baldwin are listed as "doubtful" right now, but I don't see that being upgraded. Losing Weston and Banks is big because we're already thin at Safety due to Kelin Johnson's injury, and Weston's big body has really stepped up the past few games and caused a little chaos up front. There are two areas of good news, though. 1) Auburn's offense has not been exactly "mind blowing" in most of their games this season and 2) Thomas Brown should be back.
So let's get to the meat of this matchup and find out what we need to do to win.
When Auburn has the ball:
As The Good Senator points out
, Auburn's main offensive weapon has been the clock. Al Borgess has done an amazing job of stringing together drives that eat up tons of time. The Tigplaineagles have been very methodical in their playcalling and in big games they have played even bigger than their offensive talent would indicate. Much like UGA's, the O-line is young, but is getting better week by week. All in all, this is a quasi-balanced Offense that has found it can play bigger than what earlier games would indicate. Their philosophy? Win the game seven yards at a time.
The most important key to this win is not Auburn's Defense. It's ours. Of course it could be said "Well, yeah Kit. If they can't score, they can't win."
Well, you'd be right, but I'm going a little more in-depth than that. Auburn will score points on us. It's the TYPE of points that are going to determine whether or not we win. If we can stall a couple of drives, surrender two field goals here, one touchdown there, etc. then I like our chances in winning this game. However, if this turns into a shootout like the Florida game, I don't think we'll walk out with a win.
If their philosophy is to win the game seven yards at a time, it's obviously their goal to control the clock and exhaust our Defense. In contrast, our philosophy should be "3rd and long." This year, Auburn ranks 78th in the nation in 3rd down percentage
(UGA, for those wondering, is a very respectable 35th), and that 78th place of the Tigers is just one spot better than the SEC's bottom feeder; Ole Miss.
No particular part of Auburn's Offense is mind-blowing, but we had a recipe for success last year by pressuring as much as possible to rattle Cox. It is very possible to get in this kid's head and make him question his ability. Again, as The Good Senator pointed out, turnovers have proven to be the reason for Auburn's downfall this year, but I have another theory.
MSU and USF both took it to Auburn as quickly and as physically as possible. If we can speed up the pace of the game, we will rattle him, force him to make mistakes, and possibly create some turnovers. However, our Defense cannot count on turnovers (which we have rarely created this year) to save us on Saturday. What's going to save our asses this weekend is a complex Defense that is going to cause Cox to think. He doesn't strike me as the kind of QB that is going to tear apart a Defense at the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. He's going to do it ONLY if he has the time to do so while the play is already in progress.
We need to put seven on the line and rush three, delay blitz six, etc. etc. in order to be successful this weekend. If we give Cox a lot of looks to where he hesitates after the snap either due to running for his life, or not finding an open man, then we might have ourselves a game reminiscent of last year. Make no mistake, this is an entire effort by all 11 men on the field. We need to play solid in ever facet in order to keep Auburn from scoring effectively.When UGA has the ball:
Forget what you've heard about Auburn's Defense. Yes they're good. Yes they are intimidating on paper, but we can easily pick this Defense apart if we do the right thing...and that would be to have Matt Stafford take this game over.
I agree with most, if not all, of my fellow bloggers in saying that Knowshon will be the distraction on Saturday. It's Stafford that will do the damage. Will Muschamp has to scheme his Defense to account for Know-Mo's playmaking ability. He has no choice. Moreno is just too dangerous right now. So it's up to Stafford to win the game seven yards at a time. We need to run run run, pass pass, run run, pass, run, play action, yadda yadda yadda until Auburn's coaches and players have no idea what's coming next.
If we allow our Offensive production to be one-sided, we lose this game. I don't care if Stafford rules with his arm, if we can't run, we have no shot and vice versa. We have got to do both, do it effectively, and do it EARLY in order to have a shot
What I'd expect is for us to look stagnant on the first Offensive series. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Bobo got a little tricky and had our first couple of snaps look very vanilla before we opened it up deep down the field. My guess past that is you could see a lot of checks into TEs across the middle, FBs in the flat, and perhaps the occassional go route to mix things up just enough and spread the ball around. At that point, the Know-Mo-Show goes live and rattles off for a 100 or so.
Again, though. This is only possible if we can run and pass early to force Auburn to change their gameplan.Special Teams:
Auburn boasts one of the best punting games in the nation. They rank 3rd in overall punt yardage
(Georgia Tech is first, by the way), but what they have in net punting, they lose in punt return and kick return yardage. They are not all that special in the returning game, but they have the leg to pin you deep if the Defense lets them across the 50.
You know all there is to know about our kicking game. Mimbs is having a great year and I'm still very high on Coutu's ability. The real key to our special teams is to kick it deep as possible and try and keep Auburn from pinning us deep. Another key falls into our Offense's hands where it's their responsibility to drive the field far enough to give us the opportunity to play the field position game when we do actually kick.What I think will happen:
Is "I don't know" an acceptable answer? I feel good about the game somtimes and then others I keep thinking "man we're going to lose a heartbreaker like in 2005." I can't tell you what you're going to get on Saturday in regards of X's and O's, but here's what I expect:
- I expect our players to come out with fire and emotion.
- I expect the fans to do the same.
- I expect us to be as competitive and driven as we have been all year.
If those three things happen above, then win or lose, I will walk away knowing we gave it everything we had. You can't ask much more than that of a team.
All in all, I've seen good things out of our Defense lately. I've seen the ability to pressure the front line, the ability to give the QB different looks at awkward times, and the ability to jump routes BEFORE the ball is thrown (because we're pretty bad afterwards). I expect the Defense to give us more of the same this Saturday because I think Willie Martinez is actually having a little fun working with these kids. Now that we have some legitimate playmakers, I think he's scheming more aggressively and not bending as much as he was earlier this year.
Offensively, we're a much better team than they are. Again, I know they have this supreme Defense, but it hasn't been THAT great down the stretch because they have allowed many teams back into games that Auburn was winning at the half (and Auburn's led at halftime in every game this season). If we can keep our confidence and determination to play football for 60 minutes, I think we win this game.
All in all, I know one thing for sure...it's going to be an absolute slugfest.
Until next time kids.
Be safe (and Go Dawgs!).
Labels: College Football, Game Previews, UGA Football