Remember the fretting going on before last week’s game about the matchup between Kentucky’s experienced defensive front and Georgia’s banged up offensive line? That turned out not to be as much of a big deal as some of us feared; Georgia schemed to neutralize Josh Allen and ran the hell out of the ball to neuter the ‘Cats pressure.
All well and good. Problem is this week. Auburn’s defensive front really is what we worried about that Kentucky’s would be. Kentucky is seventh in the conference in sacks, with 22. Auburn has 29, good for second. Similarly, with 50, UK is tenth in tackles for loss. Auburn is first, with 78.
Like I said, that’s a problem. Especially so, because even with all the good things Jake Fromm brings to the table, dealing with defensive pressure isn’t one of them, as this graphic indicates.
If you don’t want to exclaim “yikes!” looking at that, I’ll do it for you.
Now, there are a couple of ameliorating factors in play here. For one thing, the Dawgs are going to push the run tomorrow, just like they did last week. If you look at Auburn’s defensive rushing split stats, there are some valid grounds for expecting that to work, as the average yards per carry number has been steadily rising. Texas A&M ran the ball 47 times against Auburn last week, while Georgia ran it 50 against Kentucky. No reason to expect much of a difference there, unless the game gets out of control as it did in Baton Rouge.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the screen pass is a valuable tool to use against pass pressure. It just so happens that Georgia’s screen game has been one of the conference’s best this season, in terms of picking up yardage.
Say what you will about Jim Chaney, but at least he had the sense to toss the LSU game plan in the trash can. Kevin Steele, Auburn’s defensive coordinator, has been around the block himself and will no doubt be looking to find a way to shut down Georgia’s running game and force Fromm to deal with the pressure he knows Auburn’s defensive front can bring. Should make for an interesting chess match.