Jim Chaney’s got a helluva narrow strait to navigate this Saturday. Does he try to establish the run? Well, check out Auburn’s run defense over the past five games:
- La-Monroe: 112 yards
- Mississippi State: 103 yards
- Arkansas: 25 yards
- Ole Miss: 105 yards
- Vanderbilt: 120 yards
Of that bunch, the Commodores had the best yards per carry average, a whopping 3.64.
Fine, then throw the ball. Only, if you do, make sure you account for this:
The Bulldogs face an Auburn team that has been disruptive on the defensive front during the 2016 season. Through nine games, the Tigers have racked up 21 sacks, which places them fourth in the SEC. Stopping that pass rush has proven to be a difficult assignment and could be for a Georgia squad that has had its issues on the offensive line.
Carl Lawson has been chief among the hard-charging Tigers in 2016. The junior defensive lineman has been a menace throughout the season, racking up 8 1/2 sacks to sit only half-a-sack off the SEC lead.
None of which is to say Auburn’s defense is totally impervious. The Tigers are one spot behind Georgia in SEC total defense, after all. But to succeed with any game plan, it’s going to require better execution than we’ve seen most of the season.
Smart said a key part of stopping someone like Lawson is the offense not getting itself in positions where the Auburn defense knows a pass is inevitable. It’s a problem the Bulldogs have experienced a considerable amount in the past two weeks. Georgia faced six third downs with 7 yards or more to go against Florida and then dealt with nine in the win Saturday over Kentucky.
I think it’s fair to say the quality of Auburn’s defense is closer to Florida’s than Kentucky’s.
Even if you want to call the defenses on Saturday even, Auburn’s clear advantages in special teams and red zone defense means that Chaney’s gonna have to call his best game of the season and have his players execute at a higher level than they’ve produced at so far for the Dawgs to have a real chance. That’s a pretty tall order.