Georgia football: players to watch in tonight’s game against Auburn

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Georgia football renews the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry tonight against the Auburn Tigers. The Dawgs will look to avoid another upset to the Tigers.

The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry continues tonight Between the Hedges in Athens. Georgia football (8-1, 6-1) tangles with the Auburn Tigers (6-3, 3-3) for the 123rd time. The Bulldogs are heavy favorites, but this is a rivalry known for season ruining upsets. To avoid that upset, here are the Dawgs who will need to perform the best.

Whoever is assigned to Nick Coe

Nick Coe is a bad man. He’s second in the SEC in tackles for a loss with 13.5, that includes seven sacks. Who ever faces Coe has to be at their best. Whether that’s Andrew Thomas covering Jake Fromm’s blindside, Isaiah Wilson on Fromm’s front, or a tight end or running back. If Coe has a big game, Auburn will have a good chance at pulling off the upset.

Jake Fromm

If Georgia’s front can neutralize Nick Coe, Jake Fromm will have a great day. That’s already been proven. In the losses to Tennessee and LSU, Coe only had one sack between both games. LSU had 249 passing yards on 15 completions, while Tennessee had 328 yards with a 65.6 completion percentage.

When Coe can’t have his way with a quarterback, Auburn’s pass defense struggles. And Jake Fromm is one of the best quarterbacks that defense will have seen all year. If that offensive line shuts down Coe, Fromm will sling the ball all over the field against Tigers.

Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift

Enough about Coe, because he’s mostly a pass rusher. Against good rushing teams, Auburn’s defense is paper-thin. Mississippi State rushed for 349 yards in their lopsided win over Auburn. Texas A&M had 201 yards in a close game. Against SEC opponents, the Tigers allow an average of 168.8 yards per game. They are a far cry from last year’s group which shutdown Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in Auburn.

That means you should expect another great day from Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift. Maybe not another dual-100 day, but there’s no way the Auburn Tiger defense we’ve seen in nine games can deal with Holyfield’s power or Swift’s agility.

Jeremiah Holloman

Through Georgia’s first six games, J.J. Holloman had just eight catches. In the last three games however, Holloman has 11 receptions with 113 yards with a pair of touchdowns against the Florida Gators.

That’s what I call a hot streak. He’s become one of Fromm’s favorite targets and it’s rare to see him leave the field as he’s proven to be a really good blocker. He clearly learned a lot from former receiver Javon Wims who used his large frame as a good blocker to earn playing time, and then used that frame with some good hands to leave Georgia as a fan favorite receiver. Holloman’s playing a similar style of football and his has him looking like a future superstar.

The entire front seven

Auburn is not known for their offensive line. Outside a 400-yard game against Alabama State, and a 269-yard game against the worst defense in the SEC (Ole Miss), Auburn’s rushing offense is decent at best. In six SEC games, they average 120.8 rushing yards per game, and just 3.7 yards per rush.

Georgia’s front seven has to be chomping at the bits to face this O-line. They’ve improved dramatically against the run in recent weeks, but they typically only struggled when the opposing rushing attack is complimented by a good passing attack. Which Auburn has an okay passing game, but it’s not going to scare the Bulldogs.

Linemen like Jonathan Ledbetter, Julian Rochester and Tyler Clark should overpower the Tiger front. While Monty Rice, Tae Crowder and Natrez Patrick will have open lanes to make stops against the running backs. On the outsides, D’Andre Walker, Walter Grant and Brenton Cox will put pressure on Jarrett Stidham.

Richard LeCounte III and Tyrique McGhee

Despite Auburn’s woes up front, Stidham is still a good quarterback with over 1,900 yards. Three of his targets have over 300 yards and four are over 200. They also have a receiving duo which Georgia will need to be creative to defend. Does All-American corner Deandre Baker cover Auburn’s leader in catches Ryan Davis, or their leader in yards Darius Slayton? Can Tyson Campbell be trusted to cover either of them for a full game.

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I trust Baker and Campbell to do their jobs, but safety Richard LeCounte and star Tyrique McGhee need to be at the top of their games to handle to the rest of Auburn’s passing game. Lately, LeCounte has been caught in a conflict of coverages. He has to make the right decision at the right times. McGhee will play more man coverage, so he can’t allow himself to get beat. A big game from these two will go a long way in helping Georgia secure a victory.