UGA Offense Dominates AU Defense Again

With a 45-20 loss to Georgia, Auburn falls to 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the SEC.

Athens, Ga.--For the second straight year the Auburn defense got torched down field by Matthew Stafford and the Georgia Bulldogs. Mark Richt chose to take a knee at the end of the game in 2006 near the AU goal line to keep the score 37-15. The 2007 version wasn't much different as the Bulldogs pounded the Tigers 45-20 in Athens.

"They're talented and I think Matt Stafford is a really good player," Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp says.

"I felt like they executed, they caught the ball well, they threw it down the field well and they ran it well when they needed to in the second half," Muschamp adds. "We've just got to do a better job of putting our guys in better spots."

For Muschamp, it was his defenses' third consecutive torching at the hands of Georgia. His last visit to Sanford Stadium was with LSU in 2004, a 45-16 thrashing.

Georgia hit the deep corners on Auburn early and often in 2006, and did so again in 2007 as Stafford found a wide-open Mohamed Massaquoi for a 58-yard score to give the Bulldogs a 10-3 lead early.

"We were supposed to be in three corner, but we didn't roll over the top of it," Muschamp notes. "We gave up a big play there, but we were playing the run well. We gave up some big third downs in the first half, which was disappointing."

Georgia built a 17-3 second quarter lead on a fade from Stafford to Sean Bailey for 13 yards, but Auburn stormed back and claimed a 20-17 lead in the third quarter.

That's when the wheels fell off for the Auburn defense.

"We came out in the second half and they were running the ball well. We had the lead 20-17 and had them second and 12 there, and they hit the deep ball (again to Bailey) in three-deep zone on our sideline. We got out-ran. They did a good job of executing and running the ball in the second half--and finding a way to run it. They got in the twins formation and ran the ball to the tight end side and we just didn't play the runs very well."


Quentin Groves and Sen'Derrick Marks tackle Knowshon Moreno.

In addition to hitting the deep corners several times, Knowshon Moreno and Thomas Brown ran wild on toss plays in the second half.

"Moreno is an outstanding player and we knew that coming in," Muschamp notes. "They did a good job of running the football.

"It was a couple of different issues (on the toss), depending on the defense we're in," he adds. "We got a linebacker up the field one time, we got our backside linebacker cut one time and we miss a tackle another time. We had three different issues on three different plays. We played it well in the first half and it wasn't an issue in the first half. We've just got to fit the run better and do some different things to get ourselves in different spots."

While last year it was a lot of cover zero (no deep safeties) that got Auburn beat, Stafford was still able to beat the Auburn secondary down field with two and three deep this year.

"He's got tremendous arm strength and they threw the deep corner route on us when we had the receiver doubled on their sideline on a bid third-down conversion," Muschamp says. "We've got to get off the field in those situations. We've got a guy doubled and we don't get a stop."

With a combination of mostly the deep pass and the toss play, Georgia scored a touchdown on four consecutive second-half possessions.

"They changed up and ran the ball a little differently from what they were doing, but it was nothing different from the first half," Muschamp says. "We played the runs well in the first half and struggled on third down on one series, and that was the reason whey they got the score there on their second touchdown. They just made some plays down field. It's the same old thing. You've got to stop these guys down the field and you can't let them convert third down, and that's what happened in the game."

For the third consecutive time, Georgia scored 30-plus points on the Auburn defense. The Bulldogs ran for 180 yards, passed for 237 and converted eight of 13 third-down attempts.

"It's disappointing, but it's one game and we'll move on to the next, learn from our mistakes and just keep taking steps forward."

Auburn plays Alabama on Nov. 24 in the regular season finale.


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