Auburn over Georgia: Three Keys Revisited

ATHENS - Josh Kendall reviews his three big keys to the Georgia-Auburn game.

Move the ball

The Bulldogs had 446 yards of total offense, which tied for their SEC-high this season. Their 304 yards through the air were their second-best of the conference season. And, the offense put 30 points on the board. The only downside was the seven points it gave Auburn on a Brannan Southerland fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

Stop the run

Auburn's Kenny Irons did his best Justin Vincent impression, running all over the Bulldogs. Irons didn't match the 200-plus yards Vincent had in the 2003 SEC title game, but he did have 179 on 37 carries plus 31 yards on three catches. It was the third straight game the Bulldogs have allowed an opposing player more than 100 yards on the ground.

Win field position battle

Georgia had the field position edge but just barely. The Bulldogs averaged starting at their own 26-yard line, while Auburn started at its own 23 on average. The biggest field position blow for the Bulldogs came when Thomas Flowers fumbled an Auburn punt which the Tigers recovered at Georgia's 30-yard line.

Notable: Coach Mark Richt revealed Sunday that it was Mary Persons graduate Tra Battle, a senior safety, who blew the coverage on Auburn's decisive 62-yard pass. The Bulldogs were supposed to be playing a three-deep zone with Battle in the middle, but Battle played as if the team was in a two-deep zone. "I don't know if he missed a signal or what," Richt said. "There was just no one there." ... The Tigers' success running the ball (227 yards), particularly in big chunks, also came due to missed assignments, Richt said. "I know a couple times when the running game gashed us early, we did not fit our responsibilities," he said. "You just can't have that and beat a good football team. That's when you usually give up a big play. It's almost always a missed assignment." ... Defensive tackle Dale Dixson (concussion) was healthy enough to play against Auburn but did not. His absence was a coaches' decision, Richt said Sunday. ... Linebacker Tony Taylor led the Bulldogs with 13 tackles against Auburn.

Quotable: "The saving grace of this whole thing is South Carolina beating Florida," Richt admitted freely. "If that didn't happen, I'd be a whole lot more concerned about the morale of the team. My gosh, we're still sitting here with the ability to clinch the East. I know we'll be excited about that opportunity. I'm motivated." -- Coach Mark Richt.

Injuries: Starting cornerback Tim Jennings, who missed the Auburn game after spraining his ankle in Thursday's practice, may not return in time to face Kentucky. Jennings isn't expected to return to practice until at least Wednesday, Richt said. "I would say if he plays it would be on very little practice time," Richt said. Defensive tackle Kedric Golston, who sat out the middle half of the game due to an ankle injury, will be able to play against the Wildcats, Richt said.

Next: Georgia vs. Kentucky, Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Jefferson-Pilot television

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