All Auburn had to do was run over the Bulldogs.
Georgia allowed 219 running yards on 43 attempts, or an average of 5.1 yards per carry, in their 27-20 victory over the Tigers. Due to the Bulldogs’ difficulties in the run game, Auburn was able to virtually control the tempo of the first fifty minutes of Saturday’s match.
After igniting its attack in the fourth quarter and pressuring Auburn to rely on the pass, Georgia won 27-20. Had Auburn been able to maintain ball movement, the outcome of the game might have been different.
“We practice a lot of plays,
including misdirection plays,” head coach Kirby Smart remarked. “We all know that having the quarterback comes with extra headgear. Therefore, an 8- or 9-yard run is a failed fit unless you have an extremely talented defensive line, linebackers, and safeties that are exactly fitting the mold. We haven’t had any trouble with that kind of running game in the past. They injured us, imitating some of UAB’s actions, as we had anticipated. The fact that you anticipated it and did nothing to stop it is what’s disheartening. Our players need our assistance, and we need to improve.
Since LSU ran for 275 yards in 2018—the Bulldogs had not allowed more than 200 rushing yards in a game for almost five years—Auburn’s 219 rushing yards are the most Georgia has given up in a game. The first quarter saw a significant shift in momentum thanks to a 61-yard run by Auburn quarterback Payton Thorne, which was also the QB’s longest run since 2017.
He was sacked three times for a loss of fifteen yards,
but he still finished as Auburn’s top rusher with 92 yards on 12 attempts. Prior to the game, Georgia had given up 72 yards per game on the run this season. This was the reason for Georgia’s dismal performance.
The reasons for Georgia’s difficulties in run defense are several.
Auburn’s two touchdowns were the result of the Bulldogs’ two turnovers of the ball. Auburn took advantage of the defense’s inability to cover long passes and ran the ball down Georgia’s throat.
Because Thorne and backup quarterback Robby Ashford were both explosive runners, the defense had to consider many ground threats on any given play. Days before the game, Smart talked about the quarterbacks’ explosive running abilities.
They’re both really skilled athletes,
Smart remarked on Monday. People don’t seem to give Peyton Thorne enough credit for his agility and athleticism, in my opinion. Obviously, though, when you talk about Robbie, you’re referring to a different category of athlete. This guy has a powerful arm, is large, and is as fast as anyone we have ever played against.
There were sometimes blatant misunderstandings, like in the case of a third-and-9 Thorne scramble, where it appeared that Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Smael Mondon Jr. were at odds over who was meant to cover Thorne and who was meant to go after the running back.
Though not all was lost for Georgia’s defense, In the second quarter, Dumas-Johnson stopped an Auburn drive cold with a spectacular tackle on a fourth-and-1 in the red zone. The entire defense tightened up in the fourth quarter, and safety Malaki Starks made the game-winning play on a late fourth-and-nine when he intercepted Thorne to give Georgia the ball permanently.
The running game of Auburn completely outclassed Georgia, but the Bulldogs’ defense held on to win. As Georgia continues its SEC campaign, its inability to stop the Tigers’ run game will be something to watch out for.