Auburn, Ala.--When your quarterback has 16 yards total offense to go with his four interceptions and when you don't convert a single third down, it doesn't matter who you play, you're going to get beat. That was the case as Georgia pounded Auburn 37-15.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges summed up the game in four words. "That was a nightmare."
Brandon Cox completed four of 12 passes for just 35 yards and had negative 19 yards rushing on four sacks. The game's leading receiver was Tra Battle, who caught three Cox passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for Auburn Battle was not wearing a blue uniform at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
Georgia cornerback Paul Oliver also picked off Cox, giving the Bulldogs four interceptions.
"It was a nightmare to put our defense in horrible situations," Borges says. "It was the first interception for a touchdown since I've been here. The last two weeks we've had six interceptions."
Of Auburn's four completions, two went for positive yardage.
While Georgia converted on 8 of 14 third downs, Auburn dropped a goose egg on third downs. Zero for seven. The Bulldogs' offense stayed on the field for 38:12 of the game and ran 66 plays, while the Tigers ran just 37.
"It was a complete lack of continuity offensively," Borges notes. "Offense is about getting in sync, running a successful play behind another successful play. Hopefully the kids start feeling the oats a little bit and you get in a rhythm and you can go. We never really felt that today at all for a lot of reasons.
Even though Cox had by far the worst game of his career, Borges says that he never came close to letting in back-up quarterback Blake Field until the final two plays of the game. Auburn actually closed to within 15 points at 30-15 early in the third quarter.
"You've got to let your starting quarterback have a chance to bring you back," Borges says. "Every great one has. From Joe Montana to John Elway. It's easy to go south on a kid and take him out of there. That's the easy remedy and I'll do that in a minute if I think the kid has lost his composure. At no time did he lose his composure. He never turned to jello."
Heading into the game it was Georgia's Matthew Stafford that was the QB expected to make the mistakes. But the true freshman outshined Cox in all phases of the game completing a crisp 14-20 for 219 yards and a TD. With the middle of the Auburn defense wide open, he also ran for 83 yards and another score, giving Stafford 302 total yards compared to Cox's 16.
The Auburn running game worked for the most part. Courtney Taylor ran two reverses for 51 yards, Kenny Irons carried 10 times for 49 and Brad Lester had five carries for 40 and a 21-yard touchdown run. Even with the running game working, a lack of production in the passing game killed drives.
"I think we showed we could run on them some," Borges says. "The big thing about it is that you have to take some opportunities to take some chunks of yardage off your play action.
"I don't ever remember not converting a third down," he adds. "It was indicative of how the game went, whether it was third down or any other down."