Dye-Gest: Getting Ready for the Georgia Game

College football Hall of Fame Coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn football Tigers as they head into the SEC's oldest rivalry game.

Junior running back Nick Chubb (above) is Georgia's leading rusher.

Going back to the preseason when I looked at Auburn’s schedule, I thought the Vanderbilt game could be a problem for the Tigers because it was sandwiched between a road trip to Ole Miss and a road trip to Georgia. That turned out to be the case.

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Vanderbilt came into Jordan-Hare Stadium as a fresh football team with an extra week to prepare. I thought that would be a factor and it certainly was for a group that Coach Derek Mason has playing hard and playing well defensively.

Now the Commodores don’t have the talent Auburn and many other SEC teams have, but he has figured out what they can do best and has been able to get his guys to play to their strengths. That is good coaching.

I thought Auburn’s depth on defense showed up in the second half vs. Vandy because the Tigers were flying around out there until the very end. The Commodores were able to convert a fourth down and long on kind of a fluke pass play on their last possession, but Josh Holsey came up with a spectacular interception to put the game away for the home team, which has turned its attention to this week’s rivalry game.

Being from the state of Georgia, and having played football at Georgia, this week’s Auburn game in Athens is a big one for me. I think that is the case with a lot of other Auburn folks, too, because the Tigers haven’t had much success against the Bulldogs in the last eight or 10 years.

I think Auburn has a better team than Georgia this year, but sometimes the best team doesn’t win. The Tigers need to go into Sanford Stadium with an edge and a 60-minute plan for success.

I watched the end of Georgia’s road game at Kentucky last Saturday night and the Bulldogs had an impressive drive to set up a very short field goal to win it on the final play. They wore down the Wildcats and it was dealer’s choice whether they wanted to move the football on the ground or in the air.

Auburn isn’t the healthiest team out there this week, but needs to go over to Athens and take care of business. The Tigers haven’t looked as quick to me the past two games, particularly on defense, as they did in the games prior to Ole Miss so how they do in that area on Saturday will be something to watch.

Auburn’s big running back, Kamryn Pettway, is having a terrific season, but it is questionable if he will be healthy enough to play vs. the Bulldogs. A plus for the offense is that Kerryon Johnson looked quicker on Saturday and hopefully he is getting back close to full speed. That could be a big deal on Saturday. It is also a big deal that the Auburn offense has a good plan of attack against a Georgia team that has a lot of talented athletes on defense.

Although there are concerns about the health of the running backs, one thing I know for sure is the Tigers have the ability to throw the ball more than they have been and they can be successful doing it. Defensively, it will be important for the Tigers to contain the run and make Georgia’s quarterback have to throw the football in predicatable situations and then take their chances while getting after him.

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