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DJ Shockley provides early look on what Georgia has to do to beat Alabama
Georgia is still a ways away from playing Alabama, as the two sides don’t meet until Dec. 1 in Atlanta. But that hasn’t stopped some from looking to the SEC Championship, and what the Bulldogs will have to do to pull the upset in that game.
SEC Network analyst and former Georgia quarterback DJ Shockley said there were two areas where the Bulldogs have to be able to take advantage of Alabama in order to win. The first was in the passing game.
“I think for Georgia, it has to be the efficiency throwing the football,” Shockley said on the SEC Network’s SEC Now. “Offensively, they have to find ways to create explosive plays and then be able to throw it down field with a Mecole Hardman. He (Hardman) is a guy they have to get more involved.”
Hardman had a touchdown in each of Georgia’s first four games this season but hasn’t found the end zone since. The junior wide receiver also had an 80-yard touchdown against Alabama in the national championship game last season. But the Crimson Tide were still able to win that game, coming out on top 26-23 in overtime.
Shockley also said that Georgia has to get the better of Alabama in the special-teams department. Hardman has proven to be a weapon as a punt returner this season in addition to his duties as a wide receiver.
“Special teams was a huge part of the national championship game last year with their field goal kicker,” Shockley said. “If Georgia can create some bigger plays on special teams and explosive plays down the field, you’ve got a chance of possibly slowing down Alabama and forcing them to play more coverage.”
The Bulldogs do have a clear advantage in the kicking game, as junior Rodrigo Blankenship is one of the nation’s best kickers. Blankenship is 15-of-17 on his field goals this year. Alabama’s kicker, Joseph Bulovas is 9-of-13 on the year and has also missed three extra points as well.
Alabama shut out LSU last weekend, as the Crimson Tide cruised to a 29-0 victory. Nick Saban and his team host No. 16 Mississippi State this weekend.
Jordan Rodgers: ‘Georgia is a machine’
As for Georgia’s opponent this weekend, the No. 24 Auburn Tigers, fellow SEC Network analyst Jordan Rodgers is feeling pretty confident in Georgia’s chances against the Tigers
“They have talent. On any given Saturday, by chance if they put it together, they can compete,” Rodgers said of Aubrurn. “But they can’t run the football. Georgia is a machine. It may not always look sexy, but they’re going to get the job done.”
Auburn, traditionally a strong rushing team under Gus Malzahn, ranks 12th in the SEC in rushing. Last week against Texas A&M, the Tigers ran for just 19 yards. Georgia, meanwhile, is the SEC’s best rushing team, and the Bulldogs are coming off their best rushing performance of the season, as they ran for 331 yards against Kentucky.
The Georgia run defense also held Benny Snell, the SEC’s leading rusher, to just 73 yards on 20 carries last week.
Auburn is 6-3 on the season, with one of those losses coming against Tennessee. The Bulldogs beat Tennessee 38-12 earlier in the season, and Georgia has not lost at home to Auburn since 2005.
The Bulldogs and Tigers kickoff at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. The radio broadcast can be heard on 95.5. FM/750 AM.
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