Athens, GA - Georgia and Auburn will meet for the 114th time on Saturday as they face off in front of Auburn’s home crowd inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Georgia-Auburn series is the Deep South’s oldest rivalry that began in 1892 and the seventh most played series in the country, tying with Oregon-Oregon State.
On coach Mark Richt’s weekly Sunday conference call with the media, he said that this game is significant for many reasons.
“The bottom line is that it’s another Southeastern Conference game, it’s very important to us and it’s a big time rival. We want to play where we’ll be proud of our effort, and we want the Bulldog nation to be proud of the way we play. We just want to respect the game of football to the point where anything we practice and every time we play, we do so in such a way that we can feel good about it when we turn on the film.”
Richt commented on Auburn’s kick-return team and Georgia’s kicking game when asked about Auburn’s main kick-off return man, senior cornerback Demond Washington.
“You have to start to think about if we do anything different strategically. Do we try to kick it away to somebody else or try to kick it away from the guy and try to study their returns and see if there are any indicators to get a clue on to help your guys know where the ball might be going. It’s about all these things, practicing and getting the scout team to simulate well. Really on all kicks, punts and kickoffs, it is so important to get enough people in the area. The main thing for us is that we kick the ball the way it needs to be kicked and get our guys down there and make the play when it counts.”
The last time an unranked Bulldog squad faced a ranked Auburn team, Georgia emerged with a victory, upsetting the fifth-ranked Tiger team 37-15 in 2006 at Auburn.
Richt said that A.J. Green, who recorded the sixth game of his career with 100 yards or more versus Idaho State and is tied for second in UGA with 21 career touchdown catches, will be a factor in the game and they are looking for ways to use him.
“We might have done that (used Green in the tailback position) once or twice last year and it was the first time we’ve done that this year. We are just trying to find ways to get the ball in his hans in a little different way and give him some space and let him use his speed.”
Richt commented on the play of his defense and offense after the game against Idaho State and remains confident in his players.
“Our defense really set up three of those touchdowns and scored two of them. I think we were pass protecting well the whole day. They did bring some blitzes that had more people than we could block, but it wasn’t a line blocking issue. Early on in our passing game, Aaron (Murray) was not as accurate as the first drive or two. After that he was sharp the rest of the day. I don’t have a concern. He has very well and I think he’ll continue to do well. Alec (Ogletree) did a nice job. There might have been one mental error but not much at all. He knew what was going on, and he had a couple times where it looked like he was helping some other guys get lined properly. We saw some really good things in him, and we are pleased with what he did.”
In the Georgia-Auburn series, the road team has enjoyed more success. The Tigers are 18-11 in Athens while the Bulldogs are 14-9-2 in Auburn. Georgia has won four straight in the series for the first time since the stretch from 1944 to 48 where the Bulldogs claimed five in a row.
The Bulldogs (5-5, 3-4 SEC) are set to kickoff against Auburn (10-0, 6-0 SEC) at 3:30 p.m., and the game will be televised live by CBS.