AUBURN, Ala. — Even before the 2017 football season started Auburn football set its sights on the SEC Championship game. Now, months later that’s exactly where the Tigers will be.
Auburn defeated two top-ranked teams in three weeks. Gus Malzahn’s team moved into the top four in the AP and coaches polls. Beating a talented Georgia team twice won’t be simple, but with a playoff berth on the line it’s imperative.
An Iron Bowl upset was exactly how the Tigers hoped to end the regular season, but it was also costly. Running back Kerryon Johnson left the Alabama game in the second half after injuring his shoulder.
Johnson and his teammates are confident the Heisman hopefully will be able to compete in the title game, but there’s no definite word as of yet.
Fortunately, with the exception of running back Kamryn Pettway (scapula) Auburn seems to be otherwise healthy on offense and defense as of now. That will only help the Tigers hand Kirby Smart’s team another loss — this time in its home state.
Here’s what Malzahn says about facing the Georgia Bulldogs again, this time for a championship and playoff spot:
- Malzahn starts off by saying Auburn enjoyed its Iron Bowl win and then put it behind them Sunday (kind of hard to do with all the toilet paper everywhere).
- “Looking forward to going to Atlanta and playing against one of the most talented teams in the country.”
- It’s unique that Auburn and Georgia are playing again, but especially three weeks later. “We know each other pretty well just from the standpoint of playing so recently.”
- On Kerryon Johnson: “He was better yesterday than he was the day before.” Malzahn says “we’ll see” if Johnson will practice on Tuesday.
- “I’m not going to get into being a doctor right now,” Malzahn says when asked about range of motion in Kerryon’s arm. “That’s something I’d probably ask Dr. Andrews right now.”
- Malzahn jokes about being fired up and angry on the sideline during the Iron Bowl. Says he’s probably been more angry.
- On defensive pressure: “Anytime you can get pressure on a quarterback only rushing four, it changes everything. That’s usually a good sign of a very good defense.”
- Malzahn knew Auburn had a pretty good chance to be good up front, but weekly improvement has made all the difference. Georgia is still “one of the better rushing teams in all of college football.”
- “Right now, I would have to say yes with the way they’re playing.” Malzahn says this defensive line may be his best ever.
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