Here we are on the eve of the SEC Championship between Auburn and Georgia. Earlier this week, we spoke with DawgSports.com about the Tiger offense matching up with the Bulldog defense, and now we flip the script.
It's difficult to believe that Auburn held Georgia to just 230 total yards the first time around. What are the main adjustments that need to be made across the board on offense to improve that number?
Two things spring to mind for me. One, which should be obvious, is that Georgia has to get some sort of push up front in the running game. The 'Dawgs have made some personnel changes since the first matchup and while those look promising so far this weekend will be the true test.
Second, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney cannot allow himself to get one-dimensional in his playcalling, especially on first down. Jake Fromm was throwing the ball in third and long situations frequently on November 11th and did okay at best: 4 of 10 for 100 yards. But sprinkled in there were also two sacks that I think he remembered for the rest of the game. I'd love to see Chaney throw on first down more, just to keep that extra man out of the box on that down. Chaney's M.O. is usually establishing the run to set up the pass, but against this front he made need to invert that.
Jacob Fromm was running for his life, and the Tiger defensive front got to him for four sacks officially, but hit him on numerous other occasions. How does the passing game improve for Georgia on Saturday?
Again I think passing some time other than on 3rd and 7 when everyone in the stadium and his golden retriever Rufus know it's coming couldn't hurt. It would be nice to see the tight ends involved a little more, but I suspect they'll be throwing themselves in Jeffrey Holland's path for most of the night. So I think it's going to fall to Georgia's veteran receivers (Terry Godwin, Javon Wims) to make some plays in space.
But the main thing remains keeping Fromm upright. Jake can help his own cause by checking smartly at the line, which may be a little easier in the MB than it was at Jordan-Hare.
Javon Wims was one of the few cogs on offense that worked in the first meeting. Can he shoulder more of the load and win one-on-one battles down the field or do you expect someone else to step up on the perimeter?
Wims needs to have a big game no doubt. But Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman also need to make things happen as both are smaller, shiftier and probably better at creating after the catch. Jake Fromm just isn't going to have a lot of chances to sit back and spot Wims 30 yards downfield against that Auburn front. If Georgia does get it going through the air I think it will be by taking a page out of the Tigers' playbook and working the quick game consistently and giving something big a chance to happen.
One of the big issues for Georgia was the mistakes, all over the field. I'll lump special teams in here, as the fumble and leaping penalties both turned what should've been punts into scoring drives for Auburn. Was Georgia too "up" for the game, and do you expect those issues to be fixed?
Yes and yes. There's no doubt Georgia was pressing in that game and felt the weight of the atmosphere and expectations. Georgia wouldn't have won in Auburn by simply avoiding those penalties and the fumble, but it would have been a lot closer and they would have given themselves a shot. The first order of business for Georgia in this one is not to play themselves out of it early, and then to play their game down the stretch. November 11th was Georgia's most mistake-prone game by a wide margin, if they play one of their cleaner games of the season I think they have a shot.
Who's your hero offensively and how does this one turn out when it's all said and done?
I think Sony Michel steps up and makes a couple of big plays, and I'd also look for Mecole Hardman to have at least one "wow" contribution. In the end, I'm not too optimistic. Auburn is playing phenomenal football right now. In my mind they're the best team in the country at this moment and it isn't particularly close. I think Georgia plays better than the last time these two teams squared off, but it's still not quite enough: Auburn 38, Georgia 27.