Palmer Expecting Tough Game Vs. Georgia

Auburn senior Jonathan Palmer talks about facing Georgia for the final time and how he's progressing at tackle.

Auburn, Ala.--This week is a special one for senior offensive tackle Jonathan Palmer. Not only is Saturday his last home game at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it is also the last time he'll get to face the home state Georgia Bulldogs as an Auburn Tiger.

He says that while he's played against Georgia before, this year's game will be more important than ever.

"It's even bigger now," Palmer states. "Last year I came in at the end and helped get the victory. This year I'm starting the game off. I grew up watching Georgia and seeing them play. Now it's my chance to play against them. It's pretty exciting."

One of three seniors on offense who call Georgia home along with Kenny Irons and injured tight end Cole Bennett, Palmer says that the week is different for them just like next week is different for the Alabama born players when the Tigers will be preparing for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Because of that he says this week is a little more special for the Georgia guys than just another week on the schedule.

"Every week we try to go hard but there's an extra incentive this week going against the home team," Palmer says. "We practice hard, but in the back of your mind you know you're playing Georgia. It kind of gives you an extra little boost."

Palmer has gotten stronger as the season has gone along.

A starter at right tackle this season after spending much of his career as a top backup across the line all positions, including the center, Palmer has consistently gotten better with every passing game at tackle this season. With Palmer and left tackle King Dunlap both settling in the offensive line hasn't given up a sack in 14 consecutive quarters dating back to the Florida game. Palmer says that both he and the line have improved mainly because of experience and working together.

"It comes with the territory because of the amount of reps and the competition we've faced," Palmer says. "Naturally you're going to get better each week. I feel like I'm getting better."

One area of concern for Auburn's offense heading into game number 11 is red zone efficiency. It's not that the Tigers haven't scored in the red zone as evidenced by Auburn's 34 of 40 conversions this season, but it's the number of touchdowns that have Palmer and the offense unhappy. In 40 trips Auburn has scored a touchdown 21 times. Palmer says that's something that has to improve beginning this week.

"When it comes down to the red zone it's all about everybody being more focused," he says. "It's more important than any other spot on the field. As soon as we get to the red zone everyone has to become more focused. We can't have costly turnovers and penalties because they stop scoring drives and make you settle for field goals."

Auburn comes into the game Saturday ranked fifth in the country with an overall record of 9-1 while Georgia limps into the contest at 6-4 with losses to both Vanderbilt and Kentucky this season. Palmer says that no matter the circumstances surrounding this game he knows that it's going to be tough because that's the nature of the rivalry.

"We know every time Auburn and Georgia play it's going to be a battle," Palmer says. "It's kind of like the Iron Bowl in that you have to throw out the records. This game will be tough regardless. We still have to stay focused no matter how many games they lose or how many we lose. It's still going to be a tough game."

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