Junior linebacker Craig Stevens, Auburn's leading tackler this season, was pulled after the second quarter along with the rest of the starters in his team's 63-31 Homecoming victory over Furman last Saturday.
"It was a big difference from other games," says Stevens, who has played an ironman role most of the season, seldom leaving the field when the Tigers are on defense. That is one of the reasons he has a team-leading 79 tackles, including 46 solo stops.
"A lot of guys who hadn't played much got a lot of playing time and it was good to see them get out there and show what they could do," Stevens says. "I feel like a lot of guys on defense got rested up and they will be a lot fresher for the Georgia game."
The Tigers will take a 7-3 record to Athens on Saturday to face the 5-4 Bulldogs. Auburn and Georgia both have 3-3 marks in SEC play. Auburn is ranked 25th this week in the coaches' poll and neither team is in the AP Top 25.
Auburn leads the series with Georgia 53-51-8 and has an 18-10 advantage in games played in Athens. However, the Bulldogs will enter the contest with a three-game winning streak vs. the Tigers after holding on in the final seconds for a comeback 17-13 win last year at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT and the game will be televised on ESPN2 from Sanford Stadium.
Stevens says he was pleased with the way the starters took care of business last Saturday as Auburn jumped out to a 42-3 halftime lead allowing Coach Gene Chizik to play reserves in the third and fourth quarter.
That meant plenty of playing time for his backup, walk-on Ashton Richardson, who had four tackles while Stevens was in on just two.
"Ashton was really excited out there," Stevens says. "He was asking me all kind of questions and I just tried to calm him down. I told him it was just like practice. Just get out there and key the right things. If you do that, you will play good."
Commenting on the first half of play, when the first team defense kept Furman out of the end zone and 0-7 on third down conversions, Stevens says, "Coach Chizik told us that you can't take anything for granted because anything can happen on any given Saturday."
What Stevens and his teammates hope to see happen this Saturday is their third consecutive win following victories over Furman and Ole Miss as the Tigers try to improve their stock for a good bowl bid as well as end a frustrating losing streak to their oldest rival.