It was just three short years ago that the Auburn Tigers found themselves as the 9th ranked team in the country heading on the road to take on a struggling yet still dangerous SEC East opponent. The Tigers had taken a significant momentum shift in October with a big road win against a ranked opponent and roared into the first week of November in a hostile environment to put up their largest margin of victory in a regular season conference game. It was one of the best turnarounds the program had made and was doing so after casing off controversy and doubt that was set to sink it.
So here we are again, the 9th ranked team in the country that has surged through October and spilling into November ready to bury all in our path. The Tigers are set to hit the road again, this time towards Athens and looking for their first win in that town since 2005. However, there are a few snags that could hamper Auburn's chances and we all know what they are so I won't spend too much time talking about them. Sean White is obviously not 100%. Kamryn Pettway will probably be a game time decision. Kerryon Johnson is also not 100%. Add Tre' Williams and Tony Stevens to that list as well. Yes, there are plenty of other athletes on this roster and some have made an impact, but to keep this run going, Auburn needs a lot more.
The Georgia Bulldogs, who were once the most consistently formidable teams in Southeastern Conference as a whole have fallen quite far under first-year head coach, Kirby Smart. Yep, another Saban acolyte has taken the reins of an top tier college football program and I'll be damned, he's not getting those famous Saban-esque results. Well, that's not entirely accurate as Alabama did put together 7-6 season in his first year with the Tide and Smart has a 45% chance of matching that result. Great job Georgia, I'm sure you're absolutely thrilled with this outcome compared to that other guy you let go of last season.
The Bulldogs, however, have one of the best defenses in the conference right now. They are third in rush defense, sixth in passing defense and currently have a +5 turnover margin that includes 10 interceptions on the year. If KP and KJ are not ready to go and White's shoulder is giving him trouble then Auburn could be in for a real struggle. But despite putting one of the better defenses on the field, they do not produce many sacks or tackles for loss. This might be enough of an edge for Auburn to establish a good mix of run and pass plays to keep the Bulldogs defense from putting too much pressure on the offensive line.
Last week, Kyle Shurmur put up his second best performance of the year against Auburn's defensive secondary. According to 247 Sports Composite, Shurmur was a 4 star recruit and 13th best pro-style quarterback in the nation. Jacob Eason, Georgia's true freshman quarterback, was rated 5 stars and the 5th best prospect IN THE NATION by the same service. Granted, Eason hasn't had the most spectacular inaugural season, but as we all know, Auburn's DB's have a way making so-so quarterbacks look like world-beaters. It is extremely frustrating to watch and with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel not exactly lighting up linebackers and breaking ankles this season, I have bad feeling that Jim Chaney, the Dawgs OC, will be calling plenty of passing plays in this game. Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams, and the rest of the front four will need to play the game of their lives to help out and also because it would be awesome to rack up a bunch of sacks against Georgia.
There's one more thing I want to add before I sign off here and let you all go on about your day and that is Gus & Co. really need to find a way to utilize John Franklin III. I'm not necessarily saying he needs or should be getting more snaps at QB every game, but he needs to be out there. JF3 is just too much of a veritable threat to not have out there. Find something for him to do. Have him go in motion on end arounds or jet sweeps. Hell, line him up at running back and pull some RPO stuff with him! I don't know, I'm not the offensive genius like they are, but send him out there and freak defenses the hell out!
I hate UGA. I so badly want to see Auburn chalk their seventh straight victory on the year. I want our Tigers to stomp on their faces, break their noses and wish they never got rid of Richt. Go straight to hell Bulldogs and I hope your enjoying the irony of yet another year that was suppose to be yours only to piss it away again.