Richt Talks Tigers And Bulldogs

Georgia's Mark Richt discusses Saturday's showdown between third-ranked Auburn and the fifth-ranked Bulldogs.

Athens, Ga.-–Coach Mark Richt has seen defenses from all across the SEC this season as he prepares his offense for game after game, but the one constant he remembers each week is how impressive Auburn's offense was against each opposing team. Richt and the Bulldogs will get a chance to see the Tigers face to face this week when the two teams square off at 2:30 p.m. on CBS television this Saturday. He says that Auburn's offense, and in particular Jason Campbell, has caught his eye on several occasions.

"We are getting ready for Auburn," Richt says. "I don't know what I can say about Auburn other than they are undefeated for a real good reason. They have been consistently excellent on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game. They are just a very impressive team. I get to see a lot of their offense because I watch a lot of defense across the league. They seem to have played just about everybody we have played. We get tapes of other teams' defenses and I get to see Auburn's offense. I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am with the job they are doing blocking, route running, catching, running, of course. They are the best runners in the country.

"Their quarterback is just doing a fantastic job. Campbell is playing like an All-American. I think he ought to have some All-American possibilities. The guy is third in the nation in pass efficiency and has hardly made a mistake all year long. I think the thing he does the best now is how he handles pressure and how he handles a play that not be set up the way it ought to. Instead of trying to do something spectacular with it, he's done a great job of dumping the ball to outlets or just throwing the ball away. I think he has really been one of the biggest changes in their offense."

Campbell won't be the only experienced quarterback playing good football on the field Saturday as Georgia's David Greene enters Saturday's game with 40 career victories as a starting quarterback, the most ever in the Southeastern Conference. Despite battling a touch of the flu this week and missing several practices, Richt says he believes Greene will play and the quarterback duel will be fun to watch.

"This is as big of a game as either one of them has probably played, maybe more so for Auburn considering they are undefeated at this point," Richt says. "You want guys that have been in those kinds of games before. They certainly have been in plenty of them. That won't be new to them. They are both hitting their stride right now. Campbell was really sharp from the beginning. David has really come on the last month or so. They are both playing well. They've both been in big games. They won't get intimidated or confused by anything going on out there. I think it's huge for both teams."

David Greene

A new wrinkle in this year's Auburn-Georgia game is the emergence of Auburn's offense under new coordinator Al Borges. A disciple of the West Coast system, Borges has brought balance and the ability to throw the ball down the field to the Tigers and Richt says that makes Auburn a very dangerous team to play, but more fun to watch on the field.

"I think he's done an unbelievable job," Richt says of Borges. "They are like a machine. You can produce a lot of yards and maybe even points sometimes, but you can look at a tape and see if an offense is disciplined and if they are doing what a coach tells them to do or not. This is a well-oiled machine. They are doing the way it ought to be done. This is a precision outfit. It's fun to watch those kinds of teams until you play them."

While Auburn's offense gets much of the talk, the defense is something that Richt has been looking at this week to try to find a way to attack it. While it's a certainty that Greene and reserve quarterback D.J. Shockley will attack the cornerback opposite Carlos Rogers, Richt says that team must be able to run the ball to keep Auburn's ferocious pass rush out of third and long situations.

"They have some great pass rushers, two in particular, McClover (Stanley McClover) and Groves (Quentin Groves)," Richt says. "They are really talented, very fast. A lot of times only one of them is in the game. Once in a while both are in the game, and that really creates some problems for you. I'm sure our tackles will need some help from time to time. It's just like if you are playing Pollack. You'd better not let your tackle try to block him by himself the whole game. We'll have some ways to help them out. It would be nice to establish some running game. Hopefully we can to a certain degree. I think we'll have to be balanced. I don't think we can just have our way one way or another. If we become one-dimensional, we'll be in trouble."

Georgia's shot at a running game could depend on the play of true freshman tailbacks Thomas Brown and Danny Ware. Injured against Kentucky, Ware's health is questionable for Saturday, leaving Brown to carry the load. So far this season the Tucker, Ga. native has been up to the task and Richt says he likes the way he plays the game.

"Oh, he's playing very well," Richt says. "He probably would have been the starter regardless of the injury situation with Danny. They are kind of a 1 and 1A. They still would have been 1 and 1A if they were both healthy and still will be if Danny can come through and be ready to go. He's been very consistent with how he's run the ball. The bottom line would have to be that he has just held on to the ball better. That would be the deciding factor to me as far as who would start. Danny Ware, if he is healthy, will still get close to 50 percent of the reps."

Even without all the attention Saturday's game is being given it would be a big game, but for the first time in 21 years both teams come into the contest ranked in the Top-five in the country and looking down the road at big things. For Georgia it's win or the likely destination is Orlando, Fla. for the Capital One Bowl. Auburn has bigger goals in mind with Miami the final goal for the Orange Bowl. Richt says that no matter the situation this is a game that both teams desperately want to win and will do anything for on Saturday.

"To me, Auburn has a lot more riding on it," Richt says. "They are undefeated. They have a legitimate shot to play for the national championship if they were to win it. I can't say we have a legitimate shot for the national championship if we win it. We might not even play in the SEC Championship Game. It's still big for us. We might play in the SEC Championship Game if we were fortunate enough for good things to happen for us. If we lose it, all those possibilities are gone. We are playing for possibilities. They are playing for more real, tangible things you can sink your teeth into."

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