By Jay Coulter
With the Deep South’s oldest rivalry only two days away now, let’s shelf the Tommy Tuberville to Texas A&M talk and focus on what’s most important – Auburn vs. Georgia.
Tuberville said practices have been spirited all week. On Tuesday there were reports of numerous skirmishes between players at practice.
Auburn coaches view this as a good thing – meaning enthusiasm is high and players are anxious to go.
Tuberville tried to tone things down somewhat on Wednesday.
"We had a good practice today--no fights," said Tuberville. "We limited that to just scuffles." The Tigers moved practice to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take advantage of better lighting.
"We practiced a lot on the kicking game, obviously trying to do some things to help us out a little bit in terms of mistakes we have been making," said Tuberville.
"We worked on a lot of red zone stuff," the coach says. "They are one of the better red zone teams. We haven’t been as good a red zone team as we would like to be...we worked a lot on red zone offense and defense."
Auburn will be going after its 16th consecutive win in the vaunted white uniforms. If history is any indicator, the Tigers should play well at Sanford Stadium. Auburn has won 10 of the last 12 meetings in Athens.
Georgia is a team that has won with offense this season. They rarely make mistakes, committing only 9 turnovers this year – tops in the SEC.
They are powered by redshirt freshman running back Knowshown Moreno who has gained a staggering 541 yards and six touchdowns in the last three games. He’s only the second freshman in school history to gain 1,000 yards in a season. I’ll give you one guess as to who the other freshman was.
Georgia coach Mark Richt addressed the media on Tuesday and had this to say about the Tigers:
On Auburn's receiving corps:
"Smith and Billings seem to be the ones they go to the most. Smith was another Georgia product who left the state. He actually was a walk-on and ended up earning a scholarship and has been playing some great football for them."
On Auburn's offensive line:
"Their offensive line is very similar to ours, and I think everyone knows that. Just to remind everybody, they've been starting three freshmen, also. I think actually three true freshmen. They're doing a very nice job. Tyrone Green, the left guard, is a junior and probably playing the best ball out of all of them."
On Auburn's offense:
"They really are in the same mold as they've been for years under Coach Tuberville. They're going to run the rock. They'll play very physical up front, and set up a lot of their running game with their passing game. That hasn't changed one bit. Al Borges does a great job calling their offense and utilizing the skill they have available.
"Offensive line coach Hugh Nall is a heck of a coach. He's a very hard-nosed guy who does a great job. He's a former Bulldog, actually. He's another Georgia guy that got away."
On Auburn's defensive ends:
"Defensively, their defensive ends are outstanding in (Sen'Derrick) Marks, (Quentin) Groves, and (Antonio) Coleman. I guess Coleman has played so well that they went ahead and moved Quentin Groves to SAM linebacker. I'm not sure if they're going to do that this week or not, but Quentin seemed to do a very nice job out there at the SAM spot.
"He's got a very similar body type to our Brandon Miller, so it's not too unusual to see a guy like that play the SAM spot. They're doing a very nice job creating pressure off the edges with those guys."
On Auburn's defensive line:
"Josh Thompson, another Georgia boy playing inside, along with Pat Sims, is a very athletic and tough guy. Their front four is probably the strength of their defense."
On Auburn's linebackers:
"Trey Blackmon is an outstanding linebacker. He's very fast and physical and can really hit. That was his reputation in high school at LaGrange (Georgia). He's another Georgia kid who got away. He made his reputation with some really really big hits in high school. He's still doing that now."
On Auburn's physicality:
"This is a very typical Auburn team. They're a physical, hardnosed bunch. They make very few mistakes. They like to pound the ball and control the clock. They have a very high percentage passing game, a hard-hitting defense, and great specialists. This will be just another Southeastern Conference barnburner, more than likely."
On this game's impact on recruiting:
"Well, maybe not this year, but maybe for next year. I think if one team was just slaughtering another team, and did it three years in a row, you might have a kid who during his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons saw one team win by a large margin. He might decide he wants to be a part of that team, but a lot of times it just gets down to 'where do I have the best opportunity to play early?'"