Good day, UGA. Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we take a closer look at the Auburn defense and the challenges it will present Georgia. Then we compare Rodrigo Blankenship to the Hamburglar.
Bad news comes to town
Georgia received a respite from the SEC’s typically tough defenses last week with a game against the relatively tame Kentucky Wildcat defense. And wouldn’t you know it, the Dawgs pulled out one of their best offensive performances of the year. (Funny how that works.) But the relief was short. The Bulldogs host Auburn this weekend in Athens, and the Tigers have the second-best defense Georgia will face this season, after Florida. We all know how that matchup ended.
The Tigers rank 13th in defensive S&P+, behind only Alabama and Florida in the SEC. Much of their success on defense can be attributed to their ability to prevent big plays. Auburn is ninth nationally in defensive IsoPPP+, a metric that measures the explosiveness of a team. The Tigers also hold strong in more traditional defensive categories such as total defense (356.3 ypg allowed, 25th) and scoring defense (16 ppg allowed, 9th).
Auburn’s pass rush is good, not great. It ranks 50th in sacks per game, averaging 2.33 per contest. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have great pass rushers. One in particular is outstanding: Carl Lawson. The junior from Alpharetta has 8.5 sacks this season, almost one per game, making him tied for 11th nationally in sacks per game. He’s third in the SEC behind Tennessee’s Derek Barnett and LSU’s Arden Key. Auburn’s front seven havoc impact is in line with the group’s sacks. It ranks 49th in that category at 9.8 percent.
The secondary doesn’t make a lot of big plays on face value. Auburn has just 5 interceptions this season. However, it does rank sixth in the nation in secondary havoc at 9.1 percent. Although Auburn’s defensive backs don’t make a lot of picks, they are extremely disruptive. The Tigers have broken up more than 48 passes this season, and senior Josh Holsey is seventh nationally and leads the SEC in that category, with 9 passes broken up. And he does things like this:
The Tigers’ secondary may not always create turnovers, but it keeps the opponent’s passing game from getting into a rhythm and making big plays.
So, what does all this mean for Georgia? Bad things, man. If Auburn’s defense is at the top of its game on Saturday, Georgia’s offense will probably look a lot like it did against Florida. The offensive line isn’t good enough to stop that pass rush, and the receivers aren’t good enough to create enough separation to give Jacob Eason open looks. I’m afraid Georgia fans are gonna have to pray for a miracle to win this game. Luckily for the Dawgs, they’re due.
- Towers’ Take: Georgia remains big hurdle for No. 8 Auburn (Chip Towers, DawgNation)
- Georgia’s offensive identity still too close to call after 9 games (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Former Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell spent his bye week reading to children (Connor Riley, DawgNation)
- On Georgia’s sideline, the art of pulling back Kirby Smart (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- For now, Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship remains a walk-on extraordinaire (Chip Towers, DawgNation)
- Auburn looking for way to solve Georgia’s rivalry success (Lauren Shute, SEC Country)
- Georgia preparing for ‘creative’ Auburn running attack with or without Kamryn Pettway (James Crepea, AL.com)
- Georgia, twice beaten in Athens this season, is biggest home underdog in Sanford Stadium in 20 years (Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald)
Placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship is the toast of Bulldog Nation following his 4-for-4 performance and game-winning field goal against Kentucky, for which he won SEC Special Teams Player of the Week. Georgia fans obviously like the guy because he’s making big kicks, but Blankenship also is one of goofiest dudes on the team, which makes everything he does fun as hell. With his rec-specs and stache, Blankenship is probably a hard character to miss walking around campus.
Legendary Georgia kicker and student assistant Kevin Butler — who is currently taking undergrad classes again — had some fun on Twitter with Blankenship’s unique look, using the hashtag “#RodrigoLookalike.”
— Kevin Butler (@Therealbutthead) November 7, 2016
Then Georgia fans contributed some Rodrigo Lookalikes of their own.
— Michael Gates (@RecDawg34) November 7, 2016
— MENOTME (@POTWBeastro) November 7, 2016
— Kyle Garrett (@GisforUGA) November 7, 2016
— Chance (@mckelsey19) November 7, 2016
More like Dogrigo
Georgia artist Dave Helwig always does great work, but he’s outdone himself with this illustration commemorating the win over Kentucky.
— Lynn Locklair (@ladydawginfl) November 7, 2016
Say my name
It’s obvious that Rodrigo is garnering somewhat of a cult following among Georgia fans. The next step in turning him into a full-fledged folk hero is giving him a nickname. Personally, I’m a fan of “God-rigo,” but I understand if that’s not your bag. I’ve also seen some people suggest “Wild Thang” (see above) and “Legatron.” Defensive tackle John Atkins made a suggestion of his own on Monday, and it might be the best of the bunch.
"I call him Das Boot now. I like Rodrigo a lot." – John Atkins on his kicker
— Andrew Stephens (@StephensAndrew) November 7, 2016
This very good K9 cop named Corporal Nero dropped the first puck at an Anaheim Ducks game. If this were my dog, I would have had to lay on the ice and wrestle it from her clenched jaws.
Dog dropping puck is EVERYTHING. pic.twitter.com/hZZ0opd5m5
— #HockeyFightsCancer (@NHL) November 7, 2016