Gurley on their minds

No matter how much Georgia head coach Mark Richt wanted to keep this week about the game, with as little focus on the reappearance of Todd Gurley as possible, even Auburn can’t pretend to ignore the elephant in the room.

Auburn seniors Jonathon Mincy and Gabe Wright weren’t shy to their opinions on the difficulty involved with defending Georgia’s running backs, more so now that Gurley taken back the starting role.

Mincy know covering the workhorse is no one-man job.

“Just have to swarm on him. One person gets there, the rest of the team's got to fly around,” Mincy said.

More than that, the defensive back, who has 48 tackles this season, pointed out the importance of getting any of the Georgia running backs on the ground.

“Tackling's going to be key, especially with Gurley coming back fresh and the outstanding backs that they have. It's going to be key,” Mincy said.

Even Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson joked, albeit with some validation, that only one person has been able to hinder Gurley thus far.

"Nobody's stopped him and some of them slowed him down a little bit," Johnson said. "The only guy that stopped him was the autograph guy."

Wright, who will be lining up opposite Gurley as a defensive lineman, gave credit to the depth and talent of all the Georgia running backs. But from what he remembers of Gurley in last year’s standoff, now coined the Prayer at Jordan-Hare, the junior tailback goes at the top of the list.

“He was physical. I think this is my third year going around and playing, and each year he brings that mentality. He’s an every-down back in my opinion,” Wright said. “But as I said before, they do have other great backs to share the load. But I’m sure [Gurley’s] health and energy will be amped up for this one.”

So while it is no secret that the Georgia steam engine will be back on the field against the Tigers, his presence on the team next year poses a slight question. And the Auburn defense is aware that he has the talent to carry him to the NFL after the 2014-2015 season.

“He’s a great player and he’s a guy that doesn’t hold nothing back. I see him getting drafted early in the draft, and if that’s what he chooses to do, he’s an excellent talent,” Wright said.

Even though the Tigers will be very aware of No. 3 in red and black, ultimately Auburn shares the same mentality as Richt. The game is bigger than Gurley, and there are a variety of other factors, players and situations, that will affect the final score.

“Of course, he’s a great player, I’m sure he’s going to be amped up to be back. Even if you take Todd Gurley out of it, it’s still the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and that’s how we’re treating it,” Wright said.

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