Georgia-Auburn pregame: Physical contest awaits both teams

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Sanford Stadium close to capacity as the Georgia Redcoat Band takes the crowd through its pregame traditions.

ATHENS — Greetings from Sanford Stadium. It’s nice to be back here. Been a while. A month in fact. Had to wipe some dust off the desktop at Seat 100 in the Dan Magill Press Box.

It’s a beautiful, pristine fall afternoon between the hedges. The temperature is just creeping into the 60s is and not expected to get far into them before heading in the other direction as we creep toward dark. So attendees would be well advised to layer up tonight.

And the Bulldogs would be well advised to tighten up the ol’ chinstrap. It’s going to be a physical one today. As we’ve written all week, this Auburn team is the best in the conference as running the football and moving it in general. It’s averaging 300 rushing and 200 passing a game, an offensive coordinator’s dream really.

Of course, the Tigers like everybody else this time of year, have some injury issues that threaten to impact this game. And I think they will. The latest on running back Kamryn Pettway, Auburn’s 1,000-yard rusher, is he made the trip to Athens. But team insiders seem pretty skeptical about him playing, or being very effective if he does. He never did practice week was limping as he got off the team bus.

The Tigers have other running backs, named Kerryon Johnson who, lest we forget, was starting ahead of Pettway at the season’s outset. But Johnson, too, is pretty banged up. He has been dealing with a high-ankle sprain for a couple weeks now and was not at full speed last week against Vanderbilt. So we’ll see, but it’s at least encouraging for the Bulldogs that Auburn’s backfield might not be at full strength today. It’ll still take a lot to beat this bunch.

Georgia has some injury issues, as well. The Bulldogs probably won’t have defensive tackle DeQuan Hawkins-Muckle (ankle) today, defensive tackle Trenton Thompson is playing with a hip pointer, linebacker Natrez Patrick has a shoulder injury and offensive tackle Tyler Catalina is battling an ankle injury.

And then we got the news Saturday morning that punter Marshall Long suffered some sort of knee injury this week is going to be out for the rest of the year. That leaves the punting duties to junior quarterback Brice Ramsey, who has had a tough go of it so far this season. He’s averaging 32 yards on only three punts. Those were all rugby style in the Auburn game. It will be interesting to see if he employs that style today. In practice the last couple of weeks it looked like he was going traditional.

So that’s the general backdrop for today’s game. Seth Emerson will be filing a post on his pregame observations after a while. Jeff Sentell is the DawgWalk on Facebook Live as I write this and you can go on the DawgNation’s Facebook page at any time to check that. I’ll be posting Facebook live from the field about 45 minutes before kickoff. And along with columnist Mark Bradley and Andy Johnston, we’ll all be here in the press box providing coverage before, during and after the game.

Can’t wait to see what happens.


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