Good day, UGA. Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we try to find a way to beat a tough Auburn team and get ready for basketball season to tip off.
How to beat Auburn
Defeating No. 9 Auburn might be the biggest challenge Georgia is tasked with this season. After a few early stumbles to two of the best teams in the country, the Tigers have won six straight games, including victories over teams that beat Georgia such as Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. They’ve done it on the back of a bruising defensive front and an equally bruising tailback, Kamryn Pettway.
Luckily for Georgia, it gets the game at home, in front of a Sanford Stadium crowd that should be slightly reenergized after beating Kentucky last week but still jonesing for a bigger win. This has been a season with many downs and few ups. An upset of Auburn would be the exact kind of signature win Kirby Smart needs to get some of the fan base that’s lost faith in him back on his side. Achieving that will be far from easy, but it can happen. Here’s how:
Stop the tailback, whoever it may be
There’s conflicting info about the status of SEC-leading rusher Pettway as of Thursday night. Regardless of what’s being reported, though, you better believe the Georgia defense has prepared like he’ll be at 100 percent. If he does play and is close to full health, the Bulldogs have to stop him from breaking into the secondary for big runs, but preventing him from getting steady production is unlikely. That’s if he’s 100 percent. If he’s not, the ballgame changes. While backup Kerryon Johnson is a solid back who could give the Bulldog defense problems, he’s not close to the talent Pettway is. Make no mistake, Georgia’s easiest path to victory involves a severely limited or absent Pettway.
Put pressure on Sean White
Auburn has some of the best pass protection in America, ranking 30th nationally in sacks allowed with just 1.46 per game. But the Tigers have had games where they saw significantly more pressure: the losses to Clemson and Texas A&M. Auburn allowed 4 sacks in each while White averaged 133 yards and didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Young pass rushers David Marshall and Julian Rochester each recorded a sack last week, and this week would be a prime time to continue that momentum with a few more. Not only would it bode extremely well for the future of Georgia’s pass rush, but it might just help score a major upset. It would also be great to see Lorenzo Carter appear in the backfield some more after no sacks in his last two games. The junior recorded 4 sacks in four games during the middle of this season.
Target Javon Wims
Wideout Javon Wims is making his presence known at the exact right moment for Georgia. The JUCO transfer only produced 7 catches for 60 yards through the first eight games this year, but he started against Florida, then again against Kentucky. He shined last weekend with 5 catches for 90 yards, including a couple of vital snags on Georgia’s final drive to help put it in field goal range. This isn’t just important because the Bulldogs have searched for a legitimate receiving threat for Jacob Eason all season. Wims may also help beat the Auburn defense. At 6-foot-4, Wims is Georgia’s only legitimately big receiver. And Auburn has had problems with big receivers this year. Mike Williams of Clemson and Josh Reynolds of Texas A&M are both 6-4 and both torched the Tigers secondary on the way to a win. If Eason looks for Wims early and often, the pair could have a big day.
Good mascot, bad mascot
This is good:
This is bad:
This has been “Good mascot, bad mascot.”
When you’ve had a crappy week, but it’s Friday and football is coming