Auburn’s 29-13 win over Kentucky this past Saturday was an early sign of proof for the new-look offense that offensive coordinator Chad Morris, head coach Gus Malzahn and players talked about during fall camp.
While much of the conversation has been about Bo Nix’s development in the offseason and Auburn’s passing game, the running game also looked different.
In the season opener, Auburn’s ground game was by committee with D.J. Williams, Shaun Shivers and Tank Bigsby splitting the carries. The trio finished with 20 rushing attempts, 65 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“Our running game is going to get more productive,” Shivers said. “It’s just the first game, Week 1. We’ve seen what we need to work on, and we’re going to get better every week. I feel like our running game is going to be more improved.”
This Saturday, Auburn travels to Athens, Georgia, for the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry in a top 10 matchup.
Last season, Auburn fell to Georgia in a 21-14 loss at home. The Tigers were held scoreless for the first three quarters before finding the endzone in the fourth.
“‘We’ve come back with a chip on our shoulder,” Shivers said. “Of course we lost to them last year, and we’re just motivated in every play. Georgia is a good football team, so we’ve got to come in and play, so we’re just motivated by that. Cause we know they’re going to come to play, so we’ve got to come to play too.”
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Auburn usually plays Georgia in November, but now it’s facing the Bulldogs in Week 2. However, the Tigers have not let the new schedule phase them when preparing week-in and week-out.
“We treat it like any other game,” Shivers said. “Your schedule might move around a little bit, and you might have to play a tough opponent like we played Week 1. It doesn’t really matter who we are playing. We just know we’re going to play.”
Georgia faced Arkansas in its Week 1 game, where the Bulldogs took down the Razorbacks 37-10. The Bulldogs defense held the Razorbacks to an average of 2.75 yards per carry in the contest.
On Tuesday, Malzahn referred to the Bulldogs’ defense as one of the country’s best. Auburn now looks to put up a fight in the running game to combat that defense.
“We know Georgia’s defense is one of the best defenses in the SEC,” Shivers said. “They fly around to the ball. They show up good on film, so we’ve just got to be prepared and be ready to break a fight. It’s going to be a dog fight, so we’ve got to come to play.”
No. 7 Auburn will play No. 4 Georgia this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CST and will be broadcasted on ESPN.
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