Georgia Football Three Keys: Auburn

Three-keys-Georgia

The Bulldogs move from one big game to another as they host Auburn a week from claiming the SEC East crown by downing Kentucky. The Tigers are also coming into this on the back of a big win, as they were able to defeat a ranked Texas A&M team at home.

Here are the three keys:

Prevent Jarrett Stidham going off

Stidham has been slowly getting better after a pretty miserable start to the season.

In the upset of Texas A&M, Stidham passed for 239 yards and a couple of scores. These are not monster numbers by any means, but they are numbers that will keep a defense off balance and allow an offense like the one Auburn employed to get moving any put up points.

Stidham also bolstered his connection with wide receiver Darius Slayton during the Aggies game. Slayton caught eight passes for 107 yards and did a great job of working all over the field to get open.

The Georgia pass rush finally showed some signs of life against Kentucky. This is obviously a positive, but it is hard to judge just how much of an improvement this was given that the Wildcats passing game is basically none existent. Stidham has a stronger arm and a quicker release than anyone that Georgia faced last week, so the rush must improve once again to keep him in check.

Protect Jake Fromm

As weird as the Auburn season has been – the loss to Tennessee looks worse by the week – there is no doubt that this is still a very talented football team. While the offense has been patchy as the line has had to bed in four new starters, the defense has generally been impressive.

That fact is certainly true of a defensive line that ranks up there with any in the conference. The Tigers rank eighth in the country with 3.22 sacks per game and the likes of Derrick Brown and Markaviest Bryant are going to be tasked with getting to Fromm and making his life miserable.

The problem for Georgia is that their talented and deep offensive line just isn’t getting any healthier. Center Lamont Gaillard (hyperextended left knee) and guard Cade Mays (shoulder) were both limited in practice this week after picking up injuries against Kentucky. Even if both players can go on Saturday – and there is no guarantee of that – they will certainly be tested by what Auburn has to offer up front.

Run the ball

The Bulldogs have made their name over the last few seasons as being a run first offense. In 2018 that narrative changed a little as Fromm threw the ball more and the Bulldogs looked to be without a stud (or two) in the backfield in the mold of a Todd Gurley or a Nick Chubb.

That narrative swiftly changed last week against a Kentucky defense that was ranked as the best in the conference entering the game.

Georgia piled up a season-high 331 yards rushing on 50 attempts as they manhandled the Wildcats. The 34-17 score line was never in doubt as the likes of Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift ripped off runs at 6.6 yards per carry.

Auburn is fourth in the country with almost nine tackles for a loss per game in 2018. The Tigers have also held teams under their season rushing average in 12 of the last 13 games. Georgia will have to be strong and quick off of the ball along the offensive line to give the backs gaps to attack on Saturday.

 

 

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