This Saturday the Tigers tangle with seventh-ranked Georgia in the 106th meeting of the oldest rivalry in SEC football. With the Bulldogs only needing to beat the Tigers to win their first ever SEC Eastern Division title and the Tigers probably needing to defeat both Georgia and Alabama to win the West, this game will be a major test for both teams involved and a major heartbreaker for one.
One of the major keys for the Tigers to be able to come away victorious Saturday evening will be getting pressure on Georgia's quarterback-go-round consisting of redshirt sophomore David Greene and freshman D.J. Shockley. The duo has combined to throw for an even 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns so far this season while completing 57.5 percent of its passes.
Junior defensive end Reggie Torbor notes that it is difficult to prepare for such a talented tandem of quarterbacks. "It is kind of hard because when you go out you can't just worry about one quarterback," he says. "If they are not moving the way they want to they can send in the other guy, Shockley. He is a real good runner and he can throw as well.
"They can spark their offense right back up and that can be a real big momentum change and that is just one extra thing that we have got to get ready for as if they don't have enough weapons already."
With the talented combination of Greene and Shockley and talented receivers, even with Damien Gary and Terrance Edwards out with injuries, Torbor says that getting pressure on the quarterback, whomever it may be, will be very important to the Tigers chances.
"We know that Greene is a great quarterback and everybody in the nation knows about their receivers," Torbor explains. "I think they are the only team in the nation to lose two of their top receivers and still be loaded. We are really going to have to get to him and not allow him to stand back there and pick us apart because he can do it and he will do it if you let him."
Torbor has shown that he certainly has what it takes to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season despite having missed three games due to a nagging ankle injury. For the year the junior has recorded 17 tackles, four of those were for a loss and he also has two and a half sacks.
Another key man on the defensive front is fellow junior Spencer Johnson, who has spent much of his time on the sidelines this season with a nagging high ankle sprain. When close to healthy, Johnson has been effective in his appearances totaling 23 tackles, six of which were for a loss and two sacks.
Johnson says that his ankle is getting better and that he is happy with the way he has been healing. "I'm doing good right now. I have been getting out there and running pretty good and getting off on the ball pretty good. You know, it is coming along real well, a lot better than last week and I am real happy with the results."
The junior adds that he also knows how important getting pressure up front will be to the Tigers' chances on Saturday. "I think that if the front four can get pressure on Greene, a great quarterback, we can force him to do things that he does not want to do, make bad decisions, and our linebackers and secondary are going to come up with some turnovers, which will be really big for us in being able to win this game."
The Auburn defensive linemen know their jobs will be tough against a veteran Georgia offensive front. However, Johnson explains that if he just does his assignments correctly on Saturday some good things will happen. "They have a great offensive line and they do a lot of good things, but throughout the game there is always something that you can find that you can do something against," Johnson says. "Basically, I am just going to give great effort and if you give great effort the whole game something is going to come up for you. I am just going to work my technique and do the things that I was taught to do."
Torbor also notes that even though Georgia's offensive line may all be veterans, the Tigers aren't exactly all young cubs up front either. "They have a lot of guys that we played against last year that came back. They are veterans, but we have just got to go out and play. We have veterans on our defensive line. We don't have too many young guys and everyone has played. But I feel that our defensive line can play with anyone if we just go out there and execute."
Along with getting to the Bulldog quarterback, the defensive line has one other big task this weekend and that is to control the running game. And Torbor explains that will certainly not be an easy task this week.
"If we can stop the run we will be OK," Torbor notes. "But Musa is a big back and he can run. Don't let him fool you. If he gets out in the open he can run. I have watched some tape on him so we are definitely going to have to do our job to stop him because he is one of the best backs that we have played."
Auburn is going for its fourth straight victory in the series. The two teams square off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.