Auburn Week: Kendall's Look at the game

Mark Richt

AUBURN - Josh Kendall takes a look at Georgia's game with Auburn.

Georgia (6-4, 3-4 SEC) vs. No. 5 Auburn (9-1, 5-1 SEC)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. (TV: Lincoln Financial Sports, Radio: 940-AM)

Stadium: Jordan Hare Stadium (87,451)

Kickoff weather: High of 73, low of 42, partly cloudy, 30 percent chance of rain

Series: Auburn leads 53-48-8

Last meeting: Auburn won 31-30 in Athens in 2005

Odds: Auburn favored by 12.5

Injuries: Georgia: Probable: LB Darius Dewberry (hamstring), WR Mikey Henderson (ribs), WR A.J. Bryant (legs); Out: OL Michael Turner (ankle), WR Mario Raley (neck), WR Demiko Goodman (knee). Auburn: Probable: RB Kenny Irons (ankle), C Joe Cope (ankle); Out: TE Cole Bennett (ankle), S Eric Brock (ankle).

Rushing

Kregg Lumpkin looked impressive for one quarter against Kentucky and then barely touched the ball the rest of the game. Strangely, the one part of Auburn's defense that looks the least bit vulnerable is its rush defense so Lumpkin and Danny Ware may get some totes today. The Bulldogs have averaged 31.2 rushes per game. Auburn is Auburn. The Tigers will run the ball physically and effectively. Star tailback Kenny Irons rested his gimpy ankle last week against Arkansas State and should be fresh for today's game. Irons has eclipsed 100 yards in just one of the last five games. Expect him to make it two of six today.

Passing

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown eight interceptions in the last three games. The Bulldogs are down to just six wide receivers healthy enough to play, and not even all of those six are 100 percent healthy. That probably will put a crimp in any plans Georgia might have to run the no-huddle. On a positive note, perhaps one pass catcher can finally find a rhythm. Tiger quarterback Brandon Cox is efficient but not spectacular. He hasn't thrown for more than 253 yards in a game this year. Wide receiver Courtney Taylor needs just five more catches to become the Tigers' all-time leading pass catcher.

Defense

Georgia needs another inspired effort from senior linebacker Tony Taylor, plus 10 other starters playing with the same intensity. After a fiery performance against Florida, the defense took a step back last week against Kentucky, tackling poorly on Kentucky's game-winning drive. Sophomore safety CJ Byrd could be a factor today. Auburn is led by safety-turned-linebacker Will Herring, who has 48 tackles and two interceptions. Second-leading tackler Eric Brock, a safety, will miss this game, which should help the Bulldogs. Look for former Dog Will Muschamp, now Auburn's defensive coordinator, to bring lots of blitzes against Stafford. Defensive end Quentin Groves (7.5 sacks) will get plenty of pressure on his own, as well.

Special Teams

Georgia is down to its fourth-string place-kicker, also known as punter Gordon Ely-Kelso, and that's never good in a game that traditionally has been as close as this one. The Tigers, meanwhile, have developed into the dominant special teams in the conference. Auburn is first in the SEC in punting, kickoff returns, kickoff coverage and field goals. Punter Kody Blissand kickoff return man Tristan Davis could be the difference in this game. The only area in which the Tigers have struggled is punt returning. They are 11th in the SEC and 95th in the nation with 6.3 yards per return.

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