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Post The turning point

Monday November 16, 2009

The start couldn’t have been worse. The formula was playing out as many of us had feared, and an Auburn touchdown followed by a Georgia three-and-out had the crowd responding as you’d expect.

A 19-yard punt return set Auburn up at the Georgia 44, and I don’t think mine was the only section where fans were debating leaving the game if Auburn posted another touchdown. Instead, we got this:

1st and 10 at UGA 44	Chris Todd pass incomplete to Mario Fannin.
2nd and 10 at UGA 44	Ben Tate rush for a loss of 2 yards to the Geo 46.	 	 
3rd and 12 at UGA 46	Chris Todd sacked by Geno Atkins for a loss of 9 yards to the Aub 45.	 	 
4th and 21 at AUB 45	AUBURN penalty Holding declined.	 	 
4th and 21 at AUB 45	Timeout AUBURN, clock 0:13.	 	 
4th and 21 at AUB 45	Clinton Durst punt for 42 yards, fair catch by Prince Miller at the Geo 13.	 	 
DRIVE TOTALS: AUBURN drive: 3 plays -11 yards, 01:15 AUBURN PUNT

Georgia didn’t exactly catch fire from that point, but they did start moving the ball, earned their initial first down of the game, and got on the scoreboard thanks to Cox’s throw, King’s block, and Troupe’s catch. It took another quarter or so for the offense to really get rolling, but the defense was solid from that point in the first quarter.

It’s not the the Georgia defense became dominant. Auburn drove inside Georgia territory five more times in the game. But they only got three more points out of those chances. Georgia’s defense began to respond with the plays to create turnovers and hold Auburn just shy of getting at least into field goal range. That in itself is a development – turnovers, for once, didn’t put the Georgia defense in a spot to

Most impressive? Georgia held the conference’s #2 rushing offense to 115 yards – a full 100 yards below their average. No Auburn back rushed for more than 67 yards. You can point to the success they had throwing the ball (why run when you’re completing passes at a 70% clip?), but this is still the SEC, and Tommy Tuberville’s patronizing advice to Mark Richt still holds true. Auburn’s inability to run effectively contributed to some of those drives petering out, and it made it easier for the Georgia defense to focus on the passing game as the momentum turned in the second half. After starting out 13-of-15 for 162 yards and 2 TD midway through the second quarter, Todd managed just 7-of-13 for 76 yards and 2 INT the rest of the way.

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