Georgia is now leading the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry 57-55-8, including winning 9 of the last 11. The Bulldogs' 236 points against SEC teams is also that program's high mark for this point in the season.
So, we put it to Matthews: Some of your predecessors at Florida and SC have questioned the Bulldogs passing abilities. Georgia could be just as good up front as Clemson so Auburn is going to have to adjust. However, he's still young; a true freshman. Second year head coach Kirby Smart has done well in not putting Fromm in tough situations. Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will surely bring some wrinkles to try to attack the defense, but the base of the Auburn attack will likely be the same as it has all season. Fromm showed last week that he's capable of throwing when needed.
Q: How much balance has Jarrett Stidham been able to add to the Auburn offense and has it made it less predictable?
But, Stidham plus the crowd at Jordan-Hare has equaled out to a deadly combo all season.
Auburn managed what Malzahn deemed its best response to adversity within a game this season last week against Texas A&M, something he admits the team hasn't always handled well. Ralph Webb of the Commodores needs 44 yards to pass Florida's Emmitt Smith (3,928) for 10th on the SEC's career list and UK's Benny Snell needs 12 yards to become the ninth player at his school to reach 2,000 career yards.
How the veteran linebackers perform on Saturday could shape the course of the game.
This season, the two seniors have been two of the best backs in the conference. Auburn ranks 19th nationally against the pass allowing 181 yards per game and has allowed only four of nine opponents to his 200 yards through the air. But, will that be enough to stop one of the most dynamic runningbacks in the SEC.
Combined, those two backs have six individual 100-yard rushing performances this season.
But Johnson will be facing a Georgia defense that ranks fifth nationally (and second the SEC) in rush yards allowed.
"He's going to keep us grounded because he's been there before and he knows what it takes and he also knows what it takes to get over that hump", Atkins said.
Q: Do you think Auburn's front seven keys on the run to force Jake Fromm to beat the defense? If Georgia can't dominate the line of scrimmage, and run the ball with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, can Fromm and the wide receivers deliver at the line of scrimmage? "They know they are getting ready to go play a really good team, and they know where we are as a team, so I think all those things help".
In order for Auburn to execute its offense properly, Stidham needs to be on point and there is not a better time than against the No. 1 team in the country.
Auburn is just not going to offer the least little bit of aid and comfort to Georgia. Auburn is far better up front now than it was on September 9. If they want to stay alive in the SEC West race, this one is a must win.
Georgia's best-case scenario is if Auburn's offense is stagnant and the running back duo of Chubb and Michel is able to run the ball effectively. Johnson had more opportunity to be the lead back this season than he has ever before given how much Kamryn Pettway has been in and out of the lineup (he won't play again on Saturday), and he's healthier now than he was at this time past year, when he was five weeks removed from a badly sprained ankle. So the deep passing element the Tigers have lacked over the past few seasons is now there.
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