Auburn Opponent Preview: Georgia

Taking a look at Auburn's opponent this weekend, the Georgia Bulldogs.

Coming off a disappointing loss to Texas A&M last weekend the Auburn Tigers return to action on Saturday night as Coach Gus Malzahn’s team travels to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. With both teams coming in at 7-2 overall and needing a win to remain in the hunt for a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, this matchup could turn into another shootout with defense coming at a premium for both teams.

That is especially true for Auburn after giving up more than 30 points in four consecutive games, the first time in school history that has happened. With Georgia’s offense rolling, scoring 43 points per game and averaging 453.2 yards of offense, the Tigers must play better than they have in recent games to slow the Bulldogs on Saturday night in Sanford Stadium.

Leading the charge for Georgia will be perhaps the nation’s most talented running back, junior Todd Gurley. Coming back from a four-game suspension, he still has 773 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while averaging an especially impressive 8.2 yards per carry. Backing him up is big-time freshman Nick Chubb.

Excelling in Gurley’s absence Chubb has gained 895 yards on 133 carries and scored seven touchdowns. In the last four games he has 671 of his yards on 102 carries. As a team Georgia has 28 rushing touchdowns and is averaging 256.3 yards per game on the ground.

With a strong running attack to lean on senior quarterback Hutson Mason has been has been up and down as a passer, but is completing a very healthy 69 percent of his throws. He has passed for 1,515 yards with 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions. His only game over 200 yards this season came in a loss to Florida two weeks ago when he threw for 319 yards in a losing effort.

Featuring a veteran receiving corps, Georgia is led by Michael Bennett with 30 receptions for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Chris Conley has been the big play threat for the Bulldogs, averaging 17.7 yards per reception on his 25 catches with five touchdowns. Back in the mix is speedy Malcolm Mitchell. Playing in just five games he has 19 catches for 160 yards and one touchdown. Freshman tight end Jeb Blazevich has proven to be a capable receiver as well with 14 catches for 230 yards and a pair of scores.

Up front the Georgia offensive line is led by senior center David Andrews, but has a veteran group surrounding him. Along with Andrews, tackles John Theus and Kolton Houston as well as guard Brandon Kublanow have started all nine games for the Bulldogs. This area has been a team strength in 2014.

Defensively, this is a Georgia team allowing 23.2 points per game with five games giving up more than 30 points, including the last three against Arkansas (32), Florida (38) and Kentucky (31). Statistically, the strength of the defense is playing the run as the Bulldogs give up just 152 yards per game on the ground and 17 touchdowns. That includes an anomaly two weeks ago when Florida ran over, around and through the defense for more than 400 yards.

The strength of the defense is in the front seven with linebackers Amarlo Herrera (75 tackles) and Ramik Wilson (72 tackles) perhaps the best tandem in the Southeastern Conference. Up front Georgia is perhaps as athletic as any defensive group the Tigers will face this season. Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Carter have combined for 12 of Georgia’s 21 sacks this season and will make getting to the edge a tough chore for Auburn offense.

Kickoff time is 6:15 p.m. CST in Athens where Auburn has won 18 times and lost 12. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Ramik Wilson is an active linebacker for the Bulldogs

OFFENSE

X 82 Michael Bennett (6-3, 205, Sr.)
26 Malcolm Mitchell (6-1, 195, Jr.)

LT 71 John Theus (6-6, 298, Jr.)
79 Mark Beard (6-5, 300, Sr.)

LG 54 Brandon Kublanow (6-3, 290, So.)
77 Isaiah Wynn (6-2, 283, Fr.)

C 61 David Andrews (6-2, 295, Sr.)
66 Hunter Long (6-4, 312, Jr.)

RG 73 Greg Pyke (6-6, 326, RSo.)
55 Dyshon Sims (6-4, 302, Fr.)

RT 75 Kolton Houston (6-5, 280, Sr.)
78 Watts Dantzler (6-7, 307, Sr.)

TE 83 Jeb Blazevich (6-5, 232, Fr.)
87 Jay Rome (6-6, 254, Jr.)
48 Quayvon Hicks (6-2, 257, Jr.)

QB 14 Hutson Mason (6-3, 202, Sr.)
12 Brice Ramsey (6-3, 205, RFr.)
10 Faton Bauta (6-3, 216, RSo.)

TB 3 Todd Gurley (6-1, 226, Jr.)
27 Nick Chubb (5-10, 228, Fr.)
1 Sony Michel (5-11, 208, Fr.)

Z 26 Malcolm Mitchell (6-1, 195, Jr.)
81 Reggie Davis (6-0, 159, So.)
8 Blake Tibbs (6-2, 180, RSo.)

Y 31 Chris Conley (6-3, 206, Sr.)
9 Kenneth Towns (6-3, 201, RSo.)

DEFENSE

DT 96 Mike Thornton (6-1, 290, Sr.)
88 Toby Johnson (6-4, 300, Sr.)

DE 47 Ray Drew (6-5, 284, Sr.)
58 Sterling Bailey (6-3, 282, Jr.)
91 Josh Dawson (6-4, 275, Jr.)

SAM 7 Lorenzo Carter (6-6, 237, Fr.) OR
84 Leonard Floyd (6-4, 220, So.)

JACK 59 Jordan Jenkins (6-3, 246, Jr.)
17 Davin Bellamy (6-5, 235, RFr.)

MIKE 51 Ramik Wilson (6-2, 232, Sr.)
45 Reggie Carter (6-1, 231, So.)

WILL 52 Amarlo Herrera (6-2, 244, Sr.)
42 Tim Kimbrough (6-0, 228, So.)

BC 37 Devin Bowman (6-0, 179, Jr.)
14 Malkom Parrish (5-10, 194, Fr.)

SC 35 Aaron Davis (6-1, 190, RFr.)
33 Brendan Langley (6-1, 188, So.)

SS 20 Quincy Mauger (6-0, 200, So.)
39 Corey Moore (6-2, 214, Sr.)

STAR 5 Damian Swann (5-11, 178, Sr.)
24 Dominick Sanders (6-0, 187, Fr.)

FS 24 Dominick Sanders (6-0, 187, Fr.)
28 Tramel Terry (6-0, 197, RFr.)

SPECIAL TEAMS

P 32 Collin Barber (6-2, 200, Jr.) OR
97 Adam Erickson (5-10, 171, Sr.)

PK/KO 13 Marshall Morgan (6-3, 200, Jr.)
93 Patrick Beless (5-9, 162, Jr.)

KOR 16 Isaiah McKenzie (5-8, 164, Fr.)

PR 81 Reggie Davis (6-0, 170, So.) OR
16 Isaiah McKenzie (5-8, 164, Fr.)

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