Darrell Williams (above) has 39 tackles this season and led the Tigers vs. Vanderbilt with nine solo stops and two assists.
Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers kept their winning streak alive with a hard-fought 23-16 football victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores and now their focus shifts to the Georgia Bulldogs.
The name that many SEC fans think of first on the 2016 UGA team is running back Nick Chubb.
“(We’re) definitely looking forward to it,” said Auburn linebacker Darrell Williams when asked about his thoughts on facing the former SEC Freshman of the Year from 2014.
“This year has been a pleasure,” the sophomore said. “Being in high school and seeing all these big running backs like (LSU’s) Leonard Fournette and Nick Chubb, and guys like that, just facing them and applying technique, we’re looking forward to having a good game against him. I respect him. You’ve got to respect your opponent’s game.”
After breaking out with 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first collegiate season, Chubb suffered a devastating ACL injury in 2015, which knocked him out for the remainder of the year. Chubb has managed to put together solid numbers in his comeback campaign rushing 146 times for 691 yards and five TDs.
Williams also pointed out that the Tigers are preparing to face both “Thunder” and “Lightning” on Saturday at Sanford Stadium. If thunder is Chubb then the lightning must be junior Sony Michel. When he got his number called after Chubb’s injury, Michel ran for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns last fall while also collecting 270 receiving yards and three TDs through the air. This season Michel has 487 rushing yards and two TDs while splitting time with Chubb.
While Georgia’s run game is important to the Bulldogs’ success, first-year head coach Kirby Smart will also want true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason (145-272 passing, 1,754 yards, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions) to start off hot in Saturday’s rivalry game. Williams said that the defense’s goal will be to disrupt that and “go after him.”
“We talk about that every week,” noted Williams, who played all three linebacker spots in Auburn's victory vs. Vanderbilt. “That affects the game and what they want to do. We need to affect him with him being a freshman. Like I said before, we do respect our opponent and we know he can throw the ball. We’ll be looking forward to it.”
Williams and his teammates will be reminded many times this week of the importance of Saturday’s game to Auburn fans from the rivalry aspect along with the Tigers being in a must-win situation to keep open a clear path to compete for the league championship.
“It’s a big game,” the linebacker said. “History tells that we haven’t been too good against Georgia the past (few) years. We’re looking forward to it and we don’t want to give them anything.”
Georgia leads the series 56-55-1 and has won the last two meetings vs. the Tigers as well as eight of the last 10 games vs. Auburn. Kickoff for the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is set for 2:30 p.m. CST with CBS providing the TV coverage.