Athens, GA - Coming off their 45-6 victory over Appalachian State the No. 25 Georgia Bulldogs are firmly focused on the task at hand as they prepare to visit the seventh-ranked Auburn Tigers.
When the Bulldogs run out in Jordan-Hare Stadium they will come face-to-face with a familiar foe, as former Georgia cornerback Nick Marshall is now the starting quarterback for the Tigers. He was also named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
“I’ve said on plenty of occasions that if a guy has a situation where he doesn’t finish here at Georgia, a guy that signed with us, my goal for him is to find a new home and to have success at it so I’m happy for Nick,” Richt said. “He’s a very talented guy, a very dangerous runner and he’s got a strong arm and definitely a dual-threat issue.”
With Marshall running the Auburn offense the Tigers have produced a fast paced and extremely effective read option offense. Richt said that the discipline of the Bulldog players would determine the amount of success Auburn will experience at the weekend.
“I think the big thing is you’ve just got to be disciplined. Be in the gaps you’re supposed to be in and play the responsibility you’re supposed to play. It’s not a whole lot different from playing a triple option football team in that everybody is going to have an assignment and if you start freelancing and making up your own stuff then you’re in trouble,” he said. “The other thing is you’ve got to be able to tackle in space. You’ve got to defeat some blocks once in a while, they’re always in good shape as far as numbers go because Nick can run, if your quarterback can run then that’s one less defender that you have free so guys have got to defeat blocks, guys have got to tackle well, and guys have got to be very disciplined in their gaps so that’s a great challenge.”
One of the biggest developments for Georgia on Saturday was Jonathon Rumph catching his first pass of the season. The junior college transfer has been hampered by a hamstring injury since the preseason and, after making his season debut the previous week against Florida, caught his first career pass at Georgia from Hutson Mason in the fourth quarter.
“I think both of that guy is very talented. The more he learns and the more reps he gets the more chances he’ll get and the better off he’s going to be. It’s like any other position, you’ve got to show coaches what you can do in practice to give them confidence to give you more opportunity’s and you’ve got to be fortunate enough to be healthy,” Richt said. “I think if Jonathon was healthy since the beginning of camp he’d be very heavy in our rotation and who knows how many catches he might have had to this point. It’s just been kind of tough to deal with the injuries and then when you add the fact you’re kind of young as far as the offensive system, if Chris Conley is able to come back by the end of the week sometime he’s got a lot of reps under his belt in our system where as with Rumph missing all that time in practice it’s just tougher to get a guy like that going when he’s still brand new to your offensive system.”
Another familiar face the Bulldogs will face this weekend will be that of former defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who returned to his alma mater as associate head coach and defensive line coach in the spring.
“Rodney has done so many great things for Georgia over the years,” Richt said. “He’d been here longer than I have. He was the first guy that I retained from the staff prior because I knew how good of a recruiter he was and found out he’s a pretty darn good football coach as well. “
Georgia and Auburn will kick-off at 3:30 PM ET on Saturday and will be televised live by CBS. This will be the fourth top-10 team Georgia will have faced this season and the fifth time the Bulldogs will have been featured on CBS. The winner of this game will also edge ahead in the all-time series between the two schools, which is currently tied at 54-54-8.