D.J.’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley tell us what the Georgia Bulldogs (6-3, 4-3 SEC) must do to get past Auburn (5-4, 2-4) on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium and salvage what little is left of this season.
1. Embrace what this game means. Last week’s win over Kentucky was a step in the right direction after a few weeks of disappointment. You were suppose to dominate the Wildcats and you did what was expected. For one brief weekend that gave the Bulldogs’ fans something to be happy about. But on Saturday, Georgia will face an opponent in the Auburn Tigers that looks like they are catching their stride. This game means much more than just another SEC opponent and it goes deeper for the players than people may ever know. I remember playing in this game and facing guys that I grew up with and played Little League ball with. In fact, 43 of the 98 players on the AU roster are from Georgia. That makes this game mean just a little bit more to everybody involved. I remember playing against a friend of mine in this same game and I completed a pass on him as soon as he got on the field. To this day I still brag to him about it. Yes, this game usually has SEC implications and helps one team get closer to their goal. But for the players, it has a lot to do with bragging rights and state pride for years to come.
2. Be creative. There has been a lot of talk lately about the possibility of coach Mark Richt taking back over the play-calling duties. Before the Kentucky game the offense was in a rut, not producing many points and really just being unproductive. I was very encouraged by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s creativity vs Kentucky using the “Wild Dog” formation. It created some different ways of getting Georgia’s play-makers the football. That’s not something Schottenheimer has utilized much during his coaching career. The fact he is willing to change some of his philosophies to give this offense a new look and his players a better chance at being successful gives me hope they are moving in the right direction. Georgia must continue to find ways to get the football into the hands of guys like Terry Godwin, Sony Michel, Malcolm Mitchell and Keith Marshall. Explosive plays in space give defensive coordinators headaches and Georgia has players that when given a little room can turn that space into six points really quickly. Do not be surprised if the Wild Dog produces a little more passing game against the Tigers.
3. Do the small things. Playing at Jordan-Hare can be pretty difficult. I remember playing there in 2004 with the crowd being so raucous and the Auburn fans rocking our bus as we approached the stadium. Crowd noise while on offense will create some issues with the snap count for the Bulldogs. The way we kept everybody on the same page was with the silent cadence (raising your leg) while in the shotgun and, when we were under center, a simple tap on the backside was the indication to snap the ball. Georgia must be good with its hand signals and communication while on offense because the crowd will be loud. On defense, Georgia has to deal with Auburn’s fast-paced attack. So it is likewise just as important they communicate well and use hand signals to communicate so everybody is on the same page. Regardless of who is at quarterback for Auburn, Georgia’s front seven must dictate the pace of the game. Penetration disturbs an offense that wants to rush the football like Auburn does. Ranked 101st out of 128 teams in the passing tells you they lean heavily on the run game and if Georgia is able to play in Auburn’s backfield they have a great chance of getting the Tigers out of their comfort zone.
D.J. Shockley played quarterback for Georgia from 2002-05 and led the Bulldogs to the SEC championship in 2005. After a stint in the NFL, Shockley now provides football analysis and commentary for WSB-TV on “SportsZone” (Fridays, 11:15 p.m.) and “Bulldogs GameDay” (Saturdays, 10 p.m.) and on CW69 for “Falcons Playback” (Mondays, 6 p.m.) and “Rise up Weekly” (Saturdays at 11 p.m.). He’ll also be providing analysis for DawgNation.com this fall.