One more SEC win is all Georgia needs to clinch a berth to the SEC Championship as the Eastern division winner. The Bulldogs will face their last remaining SEC opponent this weekend in the Auburn Tigers.
By SEC standards, Auburn has had an abysmal season. The Tigers are 2-7 and on their third starting quarterback, true freshman Jonathan Wallace. They also fired former Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder during the offseason to revamp a beleaguered defense.
Though Auburn is not the toughest opponent Georgia has faced this season, the Bulldogs know they cannot afford a slip up if they want to go to Atlanta for the second year in a row. Georgia head coach Mark Richt and selected players met with the media on Tuesday to discuss their upcoming foe.
Head coach Mark Richt
On the impact of Marlon Brown’s injury
“We’re going to miss them (Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett). I’m not saying that the other guys aren’t physical, but they’re not as physical. Marlon was a guy that liked contact. He’d get out there and block, and he was very difficult to cover because of his physicality getting off the jam or separating at the end of a route or whatever it might be. Michael Bennett was very much like that as well, so we’re going to miss them. There’s no doubt we’re going to miss them.”
On Georgia’s defense of late
“We never wanted to make excuses, and we still don’t want to make any excuses for what happened in the past, but if you have everybody from the very foundation of the spring and the offseason and the fall and the communication, obviously the more they play together, the better they are going to play and the better they’ll communicate and the fewer mistakes they’ll make. It has been a little bit of a juggling act, and we certainly know that either through injury or suspension, or sometimes something happens to a kid personally and they can’t be there, things happen. We know we have to deal with it. It’s part of coaching. We can’t expect a perfect ride and a perfect season where nothing ever goes wrong. It’s been our job to try to overcome it the best we can. I’m just glad that now it looks like everybody is really gaining confidence and everybody is playing with a lot of intensity. There are guys flying to the ball. We’re getting more turnovers because of it in my opinion. We’re just having more fun.”
On having two assistants on Auburn’s staff
“There aren’t many secrets out there in the college football world and the SEC world. First of all, every little bit of film that there is is given to each other freely. It’s just how we exchange film. It’s not like you can’t get film on anybody and study what they do. Are we different offensively today than we were back when (Brian) VanGorder was here? Yeah, we’re very different. Maybe not as different as when Coach (Willie) Martinez was here, but for the most part it’s changed a good bit, just as far as little things and the fact that Mike (Bobo) is calling the game and not me. There’s a difference there too.”
On Auburn’s season
“I think the big thing is just our league itself. There is truly a very, very fine line between winning and losing. There are a lot of good teams in our league in my opinion that still might have a losing record in league play. You lose some close games and sometimes you win the close games. Sometimes you get a break here or there and you grab momentum, and it serves you well for the rest of the year, and sometimes you don’t ever find it.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray
On injuries at receiver
“It’s tough losing those guys. Michael [Bennett] was our leading receiver in touchdowns and receptions I believe when he was injured, and then Marlon, he was having an unbelievable year and an awesome game. It’s tough losing both of those guys, especially because they’re so physical. Those are guys you can play on the weak side, in the slot, in both slots on the weak side. You can move them around, which was huge in our offense. I feel bad for Marlon, it being his senior year. It’s not the way he wanted to go out. But I know we have guys who can step up like Chris Conley, and Rhett McGowan and Justin Scott-Wesley. They’ve got to be ready to go.”