As Georgia gets ready for a game that will decide whether or not the fifth-ranked Bulldogs represent the SEC East in the Georgia Dome, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo says there hasn't been any need to remind his players how big Saturday night's contest at Auburn truly is.
"They know," Bobo said. "We've all worked extremely hard and we know what we've got to do to be ready to play and I expect nothing less than we do our best and play as hard as we can."
On paper, Georgia should find some measure of success against the Tigers (2-7, 0-6).
Auburn ranks next-to-last in the SEC in total defense (428.7 yards per game), 10th in scoring defense (27.3 points per game), 9th in pass defense (229.4 ypg) and dead last in rush defense (199.2 ypg) under former Bulldog defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.
Although it's been eight years (2004) since VanGorder - who came to Auburn from the Atlanta Falcons - was last on the Bulldogs' staff, he's someone Bobo obviously already knows quite well.
Still, he's checked with other sources for a few reminders.
"We went back and looked at some stuff from the Falcons; we watched some of that this summer and pulled it out again to review just to get some looks that we might go against because a lot of the teams that they've (Auburn) played run spread and some run-quarterback stuff that we don't do so we've been looking for some more conventional offenses compare how they might line up," Bobo said. "That would be the only thing, but he's a four-down guy, he likes fire-zones and they play a little 2-Tampa, but I still see his guys playing hard."
Making sure quarterback Aaron Murray has plenty of time to throw has been one of Bobo's main goals this week in practice.
Last week, Ole Miss sacked Murray five times - all in the first half - before the proper adjustments were made allowing him to stay upright in the second.
"A lot of time when you think sacks you think the line of scrimmage. But we had a receiver bust a route, we had a running back not pick up a safety one time and hit the tackle off of his guy, we had the quarterback hold the ball when we should have got rid of it and two times we got whipped up front. So, really, it's everybody that's responsible for the sacks," Bobo explained. "So what we talked about at halftime was just doing our job and we did some seven-man protection just to kind of change up our protection. But going into that game I said talent wise, their defensive ends, their speed rushers, were as talented as anybody we've played except maybe South Carolina."
As for the offensive line, it remains up in the air whether starting right guard Chris Burnette will be able to play after injuring his shoulder against the Rebels.
If Burnette can't play, look for Kenarious Gates to slide to right guard with Mark Beard going to left tackle, which the pair did in last week's game.
Of course, the offensive line isn't the only position facing a possibly shakeup against the Tigers.
Bobo already knows there will be changes regarding his wide receivers after losing to a torn ACL.
However, he doesn't seem that concerned.
"It's given other guys a chance to step up. I'm excited for Justin Scott (Wesley), he's worked extremely hard and really hasn't had a bad attitude," Bobo said. "I think he's got better this year so I'm happy for him to have an opportunity. I've talked all the time about Chris Conley all the time, too and how hard he's worked. He'll play well on Saturday, too."
[db]Todd Gurley is also ready to go.
The freshman comes into play as the second-leading rusher in the SEC behind Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, with 138 carries for 857 yards and 10 touchdowns, numbers that have been achieved despite being the focus of opposing defenses the Bulldogs happen to play.
Bobo concedes Gurley has taken his share of hard knocks.
"He's just got some nagging injuries, but he's good to go," Bobo said. "But we're not the only team in America with nagging injuries, everybody's got to suck it up and get prepared this week, take care of your body on the down time, get your treatment and be ready to go on Saturday."
Bobo has no doubt Gurley will do just that.
"He's a tough, tough kid. Obviously you can look at him and tell how physically well-built he is, but like any back playing in this league he's had his bumps and bruises," Bobo said. "His toughness is something we've leaned on and hopefully he can keep it going for a few more weeks."