As we move into week two we enter a critical crossroads in Auburn and Georgia’s season. Georgia has some pretty big questions at quarterback even with the clearance of USC transfer JT Daniels, and the starting job, according to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, is still up for grabs.
If you are Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele you have to prepare for either one of Bennett, Daniels, or Mathis because each brings different challenges and advantages to the table. Stetson Bennett did a nice job of coming out of the bullpen last week against an undermanned Arkansas squad to get the Dawg’s offense rolling as they slowly put away the Hogs. Bennett is a solid passer but hasn’t had to play in a big-time game as a starter, let alone against an Auburn defense that is going to play…well…Auburn defense. Mathis got pulled early in his first and maybe only chance to prove he is the guy and mentally that does something to a quarterback. Finally, Daniels is very capable as a passer but is coming off a knee injury and hasn’t played a snap in college football in a while and never in the SEC.
Auburn enters the game offensively with some issues of their own. Bo Nix did some very nice things against Kentucky and protected the ball, but still has a tendency to leave the pocket early and kill the 2nd and 3rd progressions on the play. If Auburn is going to move the ball against Georgia, Bo Nix is going to have to do it from the pocket, a skill he still has yet to master. The brand new offensive line held their own against a veteran Wildcat defensive front, but there are still questions at the tackle position and Georgia is bringing a different level of talent on the defensive line.
Defensively Auburn has a choice to make. Do you heat the quarterback up and force them to beat you on the fly? Or do you rush four and play coverage making the quarterback have to fit it into tighter windows? Why not both?
I believe you will see Auburn sell out to stop the run early and force Georgia to beat them with a loaded box. If Georgia has a repeat of last week and cannot run the ball I expect Auburn to start bringing pressure to try and force turnovers.
The bottom line is this: the team that establishes the run and plays good special teams will win this game.
MY PREDICTION: AUBURN 27 GEORGIA 21