AUBURN, Ala.—Welcome to the Loveliest (But Certainly Not Happiest These Days) Village on the Plains.
The last time we were here there was intrigue about Cam Newton and the NCAA eligibility questions surrounding him. There was big, bad defensive lineman Nick Fairley. Now the Tigers are just mostly bad this season and coach Gene Chizik appears to be coaching for his job.
“That just shows you college football is crazy,” Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings said. “Also they had a guy named Cam Newton two years ago.”
Auburn’s woes don’t necessarily mean this will be a cakewalk for Georgia, which will clinch the SEC East and a spot in the SEC championship game with a victory.
It is after all a rivalry game. At night on the road. Anything can happen.
Georgia only won by five at Kentucky, where Vanderbilt romped 40-0 last week.
“We’ve got to understand we’ve go to be able to match the intensity of the game,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “It’s a big game. It’s on the road. Anytime you do that, you have to be able to handle the environment that you’re in and understand that the only thing that really matters are the people on the field. We’ve got to be able to step up and play and match the intensity we’re going to see from them.”
The Bulldogs won’t have senior wideout Marlon Brown, who underwent surgery Friday for a torn ACL. Senior receiver Tavarres King tweeted Friday that he is honoring Brown by wearing his jersey No. 15 tonight.
Other pregame items:
–Looks like there are scouts from seven NFL teams credentialed here in the press box. Guess they don’t want to gauge Alec Ogletree’s ability against triple-option offenses the next two weeks.
–As expected, Georgia starting right guard Chris Burnette isn’t playing today due to a shoulder injury, the school confirmed. That should mean Mark Beard is your starting left tackle, Kenarious Gates is likely to start at left guard and Dallas Lee at right guard.
–No surprises on the travel roster. Fullback Merritt Hall, who missed the Ole Miss game with a sprained ankle, is on the trip. Linebacker Chase Vasser (shoulder) also remains out. Freshman Blake Tibbs, as Richt suggested, isn’t on the trip despite Brown and Michael Bennett being out for the season. Georgia is redshirting Tibbs. Backup offensive lineman Watts Dantzler was on the travel roster as well after not being on it for the Florida game.
–Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner, both original members of Mark Richt’s Georgia staff, spent several minutes chatting on the field pregame.
Tigers secondary coach Willie Martinez will coach in the same game as several of his former Georgia players.
“It will be a fun game just to showcase my talents to him,” Commings said.
King said about the players Martinez is now coaching: “I’m looking for his guys to be very chippy wanting to play us.”
–Several Georgia coaches and staff members greeted Martinez with a hug as the teams warmed up. That included offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and receivers coach Tony Ball.
–Check back here for updates leading up to kickoff.
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