Auburn-Georgia Once Again A Big Game

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville talks about this weekend's match-up with Georgia and the health of the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn and Georgia head into the 109th meeting in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry with more than just bragging rights at stake. The winner of the last three meetings has moved on to play for the SEC Championship in Atlanta and this year may be no different.

Georgia, at 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the SEC, controls its own destiny as the only one-loss team in the SEC East.

"The pressure is obviously on them to win this game to have the opportunity to get to Atlanta," says Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville. "Every year it seems like one or the other has the opportunity.

"This year we're still in the race so there's a little pressure on us," he adds. "That's what you try to do in this conference. Get to the end of the year, which we are close to, and still have the opportunity to play for the championship. We both have that opportunity."

Auburn is 7-2 overall and has the same league record as the Bulldogs at 5-1. However, the Tigers are looking to get some help from cross-state rival Alabama this week. The Crimson Tide take on LSU, who has one SEC loss also but has the tie-breaker over Auburn because of head to head competition.

"We'll stay in Atlanta before the game," Tuberville says. "A lot of our guys will watch it but we won't get to see a lot of it. There is no way around it. They understand the scenario we put ourselves into. We can't control it. That won't have any outcome on this game. We'll prepare and they'll play as hard no matter what happens in that game. We've got to go play our game and see what happens."

Brad Lester is expected back for the Auburn offense this week against Georgia.

Much like Auburn, Georgia lost many of its key players like David Greene, David Pollack, Thomas Davis, Reggie Brown and Odell Thurman to the NFL draft following the 2004 season. The Bulldogs also lost defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Tuberville says that Georgia reloaded in the off season and has played consistently on their way to a 7-1 record.

"They lost a lot of players as we did last year off their starting units," Tuberville says. "They've got a lot of guys who have played, which we have. Defensively they haven't missed much of a beat. Last year they were a very solid defensive football team. (First year defensive coordinator) Willie Martinez, who I coached with at Miami, has got them playing as well or better than last year at this point missing those big name players.

"Offensively, Mark (head coach Mark Richt) does a good job," Tuberville adds. "He's got a good scheme and they stay with it. They run the same things every year, but they've got a little bit of a different quarterback. Their players have grown up in the system and they have a big offensive line. They're a very physical team with a lot of speed. Very similar types of teams will play against each other Saturday."

The Bulldogs only loss of the season came at the hands of Florida two Saturdays ago with backup Joe Tereshinski leading the offense. Senior quarterback D.J. Shockley missed the game with a sprained knee, but used the off week to regroup and get ready for Auburn.

"We'll prepare for a Shockley of three or four weeks ago (before his injury)," Tuberville says. "We'll prepare for a guy who can move around in the pocket and he'll be able to do that. It might hinder him some but he'll get used to it more as the game goes on. You can't worry about that. You've got to go worry about the type of player he is and what he has done in the past. Look at all of the things he's done in and out of the pocket and prepare for that as a defense."

Auburn also gets some of its offensive players back from injuries this week including tailback Brad Lester, a native of Lilburn, Ga. He should give Auburn a one-two punch with Kenny Irons, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in six of the last seven games.

"Kenny needs somebody to come in and give him some relief," Tuberville says. "Tre (Tre Smith) can do that and Tristan Davis. Brad has fresh legs and we're looking forward to that. Kenny is beat up a bit and should be after 115 carries in the last four games, very physical games against good defenses. He's going to need some guys to help him.

"Going into this game, can Kenny Irons carry it 30 times? Sure he can," he adds. "But we'd be much more efficient if we had somebody like Tre, Brad or Tristan carry the ball some just to give them some opportunities to give them a break and not have to carry the load on his shoulders."

Tuberville adds that guard Tim Duckworth will be back after missing the Kentucky game. Troy Reddick will also get the start at right tackle after playing as a reserve at tackle and center against the Wildcats. He will also be the backup center to Joe Cope against the Bulldogs while both Jonathan Palmer and Steven Ross will be available at the position as well.

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