Posted: 10:16 pm Friday, November 11th, 2016
By Jay Black
Can Georgia keep rebuilding its running game?
Georgia finally got it’s ground game back on track against a decent, but not spectacular Kentucky team last week. The Dawgs rushed for 215 yards, only the fourth time it has crossed the 200 yard mark this season.
The Tigers pose a bit of a significant challenge though. Auburn hasn’t allowed 200 yards on the ground in a game since LSU in week four. They haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown at all in the last six games.
By the way, Auburn’s leading tackler is Tray Matthews. You might remember him from his previous role, as this guy.
As always, if Georgia can’t run, it can’t win. Sony Michel was much more involved against Kentucky and recorded his second 100 yard rushing performance of the season and the seventh of his career. Nick Chubb was decent, but seemed like the second best back on the field.
If Jim Chaney can continue to get these guys the ball, with even distribution, Georgia will be on the right path.
Will Auburn’s top back be ready to go?
So speaking of running teams, this here is how it’s done. The Tigers are putting up 300 yards a game, the best in the SEC and number three in all of the USA. Auburn has rushed for more than 228 yards in each of its last five games, including 543 against Arkansas with seven TDs.
The biggest reason for that is sophomore Kamryn Pettway who leads the SEC with 1106 rushing yards. He’s run up the numbers in the last four games, rushing for 169, 192, 236 and 173.
However, Pettway is questionable with a leg injury he suffered against Vanderbilt. If he can’t play or is limited, backup Kerryon Johnson is averaging almost five yards a carry, but hasn’t done much against SEC opponents.
Still, Gus Malzahn’s bus is rolling as well as it has been since the Tigers played for the National Championship in 2013. Then they had a true running QB threat, but this year, not as much. Sean White will likely start and doesn’t run as much as back up John Franklin III (9.6 yards per carry). Both will play, but White should be in there much of the game.
The bottom line though is Pettway. Georgia’s chances go up drastically if the 240 pounder isn’t at full strength.
Will Jacob Eason handle the Tigers’ defensive line?
Auburn’s defense has only allowed more than 20 points in a game twice this season. They are averaging 16 per game, fourth in the SEC.
Part of that is a strong pass rush that has 21 sacks, led by stud defensive end Carl Lawson. Lawson is second in the SEC with 8.5 sacks. Auburn’s defensive line is coached by former UGA assistant Rodney Gardner. Three of his players are from the state of Georgia. Lawson (Alpharetta), senior leader Montravius Adams (Vienna), 330-pound freshman Derrick Brown (Sugar Hill).
As we’ve seen, Georgia’s offensive line isn’t exactly the five blocks of granite. They had no shot against Florida’s pass rush two weeks ago. If Eason can get a pass away, he will have a chance because Auburn’s secondary which is the weakest part of this very strong defense.
The Tigers are ranked 11th in the SEC allowing 230 yards per game in the air. However that’s skewed a bit by 465 yards allowed against Ole Miss.
But Eason and his receivers must have a strong game if Georgia is to pull the upset.