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Georgia Football Gashed On The Ground In Win Over Auburn

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Bulldogs just got destroyed by Auburn.

Georgia allowed 219 rushing yards on 43 carries for an average of 5.1 yards in their 27-20 victory over the Tigers. Due to the Bulldogs’ difficulties in the run game, the first half of Saturday’s game was essentially controlled by Auburn.

After reviving its offensive in the fourth quarter and forcing Auburn to rely on the ball, Georgia eventually won 27-20. The outcome of the game might have been different if Auburn had been able to maintain running the ball.

“They’ve got misdirection plays, a lot of plays we practice,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “You get an extra hat when you have the quarterback, we all know that. So, unless you’ve got a really good, really elite defensive line, linebackers and safeties that are filling and fitting it just perfect, one missed fit is an 8 or 9-yard run. In the past, we haven’t struggled with that kind of running game.

They hurt us, they copied some things UAB did and we expected it. That’s what’s disappointing — is that you expected it and you don’t stop it. We’ve gotta help our players and we’ve gotta get better.”

Georgia has not allowed more than 200 running yards in a game in nearly five years before giving up 219 rushing yards to Auburn, which is the highest since LSU ran for 275 in 2018. The first quarter’s 61-yard rush by quarterback Payton Thorne, the longest by an Auburn quarterback since 2017, was a significant momentum changer.

Even though he was sacked three times for a loss of 15 yards, he finished as Auburn’s highest rusher with 92 yards on 12 attempts. Georgia’s terrible performance came after it entered the game allowing 72 yards on the run per game this season.

There are many reasons for Georgia’s difficulties in run defense. Both of Auburn’s touchdowns were the result of turnovers made by the Bulldogs, who turned the ball over twice. Short fields had to be defended by the defense, as Auburn took advantage of errors by chasing Georgia down.

Thorne and the backup quarterback Robby Ashford were both explosive runners, which made it difficult for the defense to keep track of all the threats on the ground at once. Just days before the game, Smart discussed the quarterbacks’ dynamic rushing abilities.

There were also outright misunderstandings, as seen during the third-and-9 Thorne scramble, where it appeared like Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Smael Mondon Jr. weren’t clear on who was supposed to observe Thorne and who was supposed to follow the running back.

However, Georgia’s defense didn’t have it all terrible. In the second quarter, Dumas-Johnson made a tremendous tackle on a fourth-and-1 situation in the red zone to put an end to an Auburn drive. When safety Malaki Starks intercepted Thorne on a critical fourth-and-9 play to give Georgia the ball permanently, the defense as a whole tightened up in the fourth quarter.

Georgia’s defense held on for the victory despite Auburn’s relentless rushing attack wearing it down. Even yet, when Georgia continues its SEC campaign, it will be important to watch out for their difficulties defending the Tigers’ running attack.

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