The biggest of the bunch, junior Robert Johnson, says that the Tiger tight ends can play a major role in the outcome of Saturday's Tigers vs. Bulldogs showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"I hope they put us out there quite a bit," Johnson says. "I hope we get a chance to catch at least five or six balls apiece. That would be a great thing." Auburn uses two tight ends on some plays an on occasion will put three on the field at the same time.
Johnson caught a touchdown pass in Auburn's 24-17 victory over the Bulldogs in Athens last year. The junior caught another last week in Auburn's 52-14 homecoming victory over Louisiana-Monroe.
The 6-7, 270-pounder, who is an imposing figure on the field, is closer to being healthy than he has been all season. Senior Lorenzo Diamond missed the homecoming game with an ankle problem, but has been cleared to play. Cooper Wallace, the third stringer, has been battling a shoulder injury suffered at Florida, but he is scheduled to play, too. Johnson says he has some bumps and bruises, but adds, "I can't let the small things hold me down.
"It is Georgia," he adds. "It is time to play ball. It is a rivalry game and this is clutch time. They are going to need all the weapons they can pull out to beat us and we are going to need all of the weapons to beat them also."
One of Johnson's assignments will likely be to help block Georgia All-SEC candidate David Pollack, who has been terrorizing opponents from his defensive end position. "He is a guy who likes to use his hands and he uses them real well," Johnson says. "I give him credit on his effort when he goes out and plays. We are going to have to be the more physical team this week. That is going to be the key to us being successful in this game."
Auburn leads the SEC in total offense, an honor many assumed the high-powered Georgia attack would have at this time of the season. However, new Auburn coordinator Bobby Petrino has steadily improved the offense from game one to game 10.
"He is an unpredictable guy," Johnson says of Petrino. "He puts us in the right positions. He puts the quarterbacks in great position to go out and lead for us. We have a lot of different schemes that we can use. Hopefully, that will allow us to be successful."
Johnson says the Tigers have improved since opening day in Los Angeles vs. Southern Cal, however, he is still disappointed the Tigers lost that game to the Trojans. "I can't really explain game one," he says. "I don't know what happened, but it was something that we didn't really expect. I do know that we are coming together as a team."
With just two more regular season games left and the Tigers still in the hunt for the SEC title, Johnson says that the offense has put together "a great foundation" and he adds, "If we continue to get everybody healthy, execute and play to our potential, we should be OK."
Johnson and the Tigers put the finishing touches on the game plan with a 90-minute workout in helmets and sweat clothes on Thursday. The Tigers and the Bulldogs will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CST at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Georgia can clinch its first ever trip to the SEC Championship with a victory. Auburn can stay in the hunt for the SEC West title with a victory over the Bulldogs.
Coach Tommy Tuberville said that split end Silas Daniels has not been able to recover adequately from a groin pull that kept him out of action last week. The coaches were hoping to have him ready for the Bulldogs. Philip Yost, who has been sidelined with a hip problem earlier in the week, returned to practice and kicked well on Thursday, Tuberville said.
"The attitude has been good," Tuberville said. "The guys were a little bit hyped yesterday (Wednesday), more than what you would want. They lost their concentration a little bit, but today was good. We went a little bit later and it was a little cooler tonight and I think that kind of held them down a little. They are ready to play. We will see what happens."