The 125th edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry might be here earlier than usual, but it all goes down this Saturday when No. 7 Auburn travels to Athens, Georgia, to face No. 4 Georgia. When the Bulldogs and Tigers take the field on Saturday, here are the players to watch and keys to victory.
Seth Williams (WR) - The junior wide receiver was quarterback Bo Nix’s favorite target in the Tigers 29-13 win over Kentucky in Week 1. His six catches for 112 yards and two receiving touchdowns were all team highs.
At 6-foot 3-inches, Williams’ height and athleticism allow him to snatch passes out of the air where only he can reach them. Williams can also make plays in one-on-one situations, evidenced by his fourth-quarter touchdown catch in Week 1. Expect Auburn to attack through the air and use Williams as a weapon for Nix and the Chad Morris offense.
Smoke Monday (DB) - Monday is coming off a strong Saturday performance, where he recorded a career-high 10 tackles. The Atlanta native will look to lockdown Georgia’s receiving core and build on the success he had against Kentucky.
Jaylin Simpson (CB) - The redshirt freshman made his first career start against Kentucky last Saturday and came away with SEC Freshman of the Week honors. However, Simpson left the game against Kentucky late with an injury, and Gus Malzahn said he was “hopeful” he’d play this week.
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Quarterbacks - The Georgia quarterback room has a few options on Saturday. In Week 1, D’Wan Mathis got the start, but after the offense only put three points on the board during the first half, Mathis was benched.
Stetson Bennett started the second half for Georgia, completing 20-of-29 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
One can assume the starting position Saturday goes to either Bennett or USC transfer JT Daniels, who was medically cleared to play this week. Daniels is a threat on the deep ball so if he gets the start, look for him to challenge the Auburn secondary.
George Pickens (WR) - Originally a five-star recruit out of Hoover, Alabama, Pickens committed to Auburn in July 2017. He then flipped to Georgia on Feb. 6, 2020.
He had four catches for 47 yards and a receiving touchdown last week against Arkansas. Pickens was the leading receiver for the Bulldogs a season ago, amounting for 727 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
The sophomore creates space between defenders with his route running, and his awareness of the sidelines makes him dangerous for toe-tapping receptions.
Richard LeCounte (S) - LeCounte was selected to the All-SEC preseason first-team, and his performance at Arkansas in Week 1 lived up to the hype. The senior recorded three tackles and two interceptions in the Bulldog’s 37-10 win over Arkansas.
He is quick to the ball to make the tackle and is a threat to rip the ball from the offense. The Riceboro, Georgia, native also possesses the ability to read quarterbacks well to jump passes and intercept them. Last season he led the team with four interceptions.
Keys to Victory
If the Bulldogs want to win on Saturday, they must win the battle up front. Their defensive line will need to work past the less-experienced offensive line of Auburn and get to Nix.
Georgia will also need its quarterback, whether that’s Bennett or Daniels, to make smart decisions against an Auburn team hungry for turnovers. The Auburn defense forced three turnovers in its win against Kentucky and will be looking to add on to that season total Saturday.
Auburn will need to continue to rely on its passing game if it’s to win on Saturday. Nix will need to continue the chemistry he has displayed with his receivers and be able to improvise. Running the ball may come tough against a physical Georgia defensive line, who will be looking to get to Nix early and often.
The secondary will also need to lock down the Georgia receiving core and limit the long plays, especially if Daniels gets the start.
The game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CST and will be broadcast on ESPN.
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