#1 Georgia Bulldogs @ #10 Auburn Tigers
Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, AL
#1 Georgia Bulldogs (17) – #10 Auburn Tigers (40)
Georgia no longer #1 but Roquan Smith still #1 LB
Auburn ran for 237 yards but don’t blame that on Roquan Smith because this was another great individual performance. His speed to meet ball carriers on the sideline is superb. Even against a jet sweep runner who had momentum behind him, Smith flew to the sideline to beat the runner there and then broke down enough to make the tackle without over running the play.
Later in the game, he ran through a TE’s block and still made it to the sideline in time to tackle the WR catching in the flats.
Play after play, he proved that he has the speed to be a sideline to sideline enforcer. He also has great instincts. He was the only defensive player to recognize a reverse and quickly attacked to cause pressure on the reverse runner. He was all over the field. He even deflected a pass with one hand at the back pylon of the end zone while covering a crossing route. He is making a great argument to be the #1 LB of this class based on his consistent open field tackling, sideline to sideline speed, and ability to cover against the pass.
Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson’s patience is key
Kerryon Johnson was a workhorse this game, running 32 times for 162 yards. Johnson consistently displayed extreme patience while waiting for blocks to develop before either sticking his foot in the ground to explode up field or deciding to bounce outside.
In fact, his patience and explosion up field looked like Le’Veon Bell. His confidence in his explosion to burst through a hole once he senses its opening allowed him to be patient.
When there was not a hole up the middle, he used the jump cut to bounce outside. Even when a DE was unblocked and waiting for Johnson to bounce, Johnson still put a juke move on the DE that stuck the defender’s feet in the mud. At the end of runs, Johnson leaned forward and was strong through contact. Johnson’s strong running style was shown with his willingness to lower his shoulder, he threw in a few strong stiff arms, and always looked to fall forward.
Sometimes he was too willing to bounce to the outside which caused him to lose yards but just like with Le’Veon Bell, you take the good with the bad. Johnson is still a junior so hopefully he can further develop discernment as to when is the best time to bounce.
Auburn’s Guard Braden Smith is legit
The best part about Braden Smith is his willingness to strain through the entire play. His strain and work ethic allowed him to routinely drive defenders into the ground as they moved to disengage from him. He continually attacked blocks with low pad level and inside hand placement. Even when a pass play took about 6 seconds, he readjusted his hands several times to maintain control of the block with inside hand placement. He was also successful when pulling.
During a roll out pass, he pulled and blasted a blitzing LB to the ground. Later in the game, he pulled to the outside, squarely took on the DB, and shoved him outside to create a huge running lane inside of him. Braden Smith is a legit prospect. He had a solid showing as a pass protector and his nastiness as a run blocker should make him a top offensive line prospect.
Auburn’s Carlton Davis fits the physical DB mold
I knew coming into this game that Carlton Davis was going to need a big game acting as another edge defender to stop the Georgia run game. Davis played bigger than his 6’1” 203 lb. frame and delivered. He filled open holes, kept his eyes in the backfield when in zone coverage, and held up the TE on the edge of the line of scrimmage when asked to do so. He tackled with low pad level, dove to grab the RBs feet, and even picked up Sony Michel’s legs to slam him into the ground during one tackle. He played bigger than his 6’1” size would suggest when he did things like throwing his shoulder into ball carriers during 1 on 1 tackles.
Davis has long arms in press coverage and got hands on the WRs to press them to the sideline before attacking the ball once necessary. During one jam, he threw the WR out of bounds after about 7 yards before flipping his head to get his eyes on the ball. He already has the physical attributes to be an effective press corner but his “chip on shoulder” playing style bodes well for his physical style of play.
Auburn’s edge rusher Jeff Holland gains 9th sack
Holland gained his 9th sack of the year this game which is only 2 behind college football’s leading sack rusher. He showed speed off the snap and strength through the junction point. His go to move is the rip move around the edge of the offensive tackle’s outside shoulder. His physicality through the junction point allowed him to gain the edge and cause pressure several times.
Although he was strong through the arms of the offensive tackle, he only showed average bend ability. The blocker could run Holland past the QB if they were in a strong enough position to handle Holland’s strong rip move. However, Holland is an overall defender as he also had a strong presence against the run. Against one run, he literally went through the TE’s block to make the tackle. All in all, Holland had a good showing of speed and above average effort to cause several hurries.