Auburn, Ala.--As Auburn returned to the football practice field on Tuesday in preparation for an important SEC road game vs. the Georgia Bulldogs one of the Tigers’ starting offensive linemen noted he has confidence in his team’s ability to run the football.
Robert Leff Leff said that is the case regardless of the health of the team’s and SEC’s leading rusher, Kamryn Pettway, who strained a quad muscle in last Saturday’s victory over Vanderbilt.
“Who knows what the running back situation will be like,” Leff said. “I don’t think it will matter as long as we make holes for them.”
The Tigers will head to Athens leading the SEC in total offense (494.1 yards per game) and rushing (299.8 yards per game). At 5-1 in league play Auburn has a chance to earn a spot in the SEC Championship, but must sweep the rivalry games vs. Georgia and Alabama.
The Bulldogs, who are 5-4 overall and 3-4 in the SEC, have been eliminated from the SEC East race that is still up for grabs with Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky each having a chance to earn a trip to Atlanta to face whoever emerges as the SEC West champ.
Although the eighth-ranked Tigers are favored to win a seventh consecutive game and improve to 8-2 overall, they will have to buck the trend in the SEC’s oldest rivalry. Georgia has won the last two games in the series and Auburn hasn’t won at Sanford Stadium since 2005.
Georgia’s defense will try to continue Auburn’s frustration and Leff noted that the Bulldogs have talented players. “They are just really athletic guys,”?he said. “They fly around towards the ball quickly. They have got a few big guys, big hitters. We will see how well they can stand up to our running game.”
Something that has helped the Tigers run the football is an unbalanced line. Redshirt freshman offensive guard Mike Horton enters the game when Auburn needs an extra big blocker.
“Obviously it has been working pretty well for us,” said Leff, who played a similar role last year. “I think that is just because Mike is also a solid blocker and it gives us a wide edge with three offensive linemen right there. With the way our line has been playing, I think that is really why it has been working.”
Now that he is the full-time starter at right tackle, Leff has steadily improved throughout the season and built confidence in his ability to be successful in the SEC. He has also attracted the attention of pro scouts.
“It has given me a great chance to focus on my technique to play against great players and constantly improve, and see what I am doing wrong, and then fix it week after week,” he said of his expanded role on the 2016 team. “That has really been the major difference.”
Kickoff time is set for 2:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday and the game will be televised on CBS.