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Bulldogs face tough test at Auburn

The Sports Xchange

NCAAF Team Report - Georgia - INSIDE SLANT

For the second season in a row, Georgia is heading to the plains to play at Auburn.

But the team the Bulldogs will face this Saturday is vastly improved from the team they beat 38-0 a season ago. Under first-year coach Gus Malzahn, Auburn is 9-1 and still in contention for the SEC West division crown.

“We’re walking into a situation with a team that is very confident and has a lot of momentum and is already used to winning,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Going into the season you wouldn’t have said that, but by game ten they are used to winning. Teams like that are very difficult to beat. It’s a great challenge for us and we are looking forward to it.”

Georgia (6-3, 4-2 SEC) is 1-2 on the road this season with losses at Clemson and at Vanderbilt. The Auburn game presents another huge road challenge.

“Every time you go to somebody else’s house, you feel like an underdog,” Richt said. “You are outnumbered. You are the team that they don’t want to win. The other team’s getting cheered, and you’re getting booed. Every time something good happens for them, they go crazy. Every time something good happens for us, they get quiet or whatever they do. I think you feel like an underdog every time you go to somebody’s house. You get that sensation.”

Georgia needs to pull things together to stay in contention for the SEC East Division crown. A loss would all but eliminate the Bulldogs from winning their third straight SEC East Division title.

Coming off a 45-6 win over Appalachian State, Georgia is getting healthier. The return of running back Todd Gurley has provided a boost. The Bulldogs are 5-1 when Gurley is healthy.

Georgia senior quarterback Aaron Murray is looking forward to the challenge of playing at Auburn.

“They’ve assembled a couple new parts here and there, but we just have to execute,” Murray said. “We know if we do our thing offensively, if we prepare hard Monday through Friday, if we understand the game plan and we go out there and do our thing on Saturday then we can put points up.”

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NCAAF Team Report - Georgia - NOTES, QUOTES

—Georgia will see a familiar face at QB for Auburn. Nick Marshall, a former Georgia CB, transferred to Auburn and is starting at QB for the Tigers. Marshall was dismissed from the Georgia team is February of 2012 along with two others players for allegedly stealing from a teammate. Marshall rushed for 214 yards in Auburn’s 55-23 rout of Tennessee last Saturday. “Obviously we know his athletic ability because we felt like he could be a corner or safety for us,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “He’s big, he’s physical. ? We’ll obviously get ready for him come Sunday.”

—S Corey Moore said the targeting call against him on Saturday that resulted in his ejection during the Appalachian State game isn’t going to change his style of play. “I was aiming for his ankles and he happened to drop on me,” Moore said. “His body changed, and my momentum was already going forward. I made the play, and it was the targeting rule.” Moore was Georgia’s second targeting ejection of the season. Georgia DE Ray Drew was ejected from the Vanderbilt game for targeting. “That one call is not gonna change the way I play,” Moore said. “A call is gonna be a call and a player is gonna be a player, like me. So I’m just gonna keep playing. I’m gonna try to play to the targeting call, but I’m just gonna keep playing.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

—QB Aaron Murray passed Danny Wuerffel for the SEC all-time lead in TD passes when he threw his 115th career TD pass last Saturday against Appalachian State. For the game, Murray completed 19 of 26 passes for 281 yards and 2 TDs before being relieved by Hutson Mason in the second half. For the season, Murray’s TD-to-interception ratio improved to 20 to 7.

—RB Todd Gurley rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries and one TD against Appalachian State before being relieved in the second half. Georgia coach Mark Richt said Gurley’s injured ankle is getting stronger each week in practice. The Bulldogs will be counting heavily on Gurley in the running game to provide balance against Auburn.

—WR Rantavious Wooten had a career-day against Appalachian State, finishing with four catches for 104 yards and a TD. The Bulldogs will need for Wooten to continue to step up and perform well to help Georgia’s injury-depleted receiving corps.

—LB Amarlo Herrera had seven tackles and an interception against Appalachian State. The junior inside linebacker has been one of the most consistent players on Georgia’s defense this season. For the season, Herrera has 79 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and one interception.

SERIES HISTORY: Tied 54-54, eight ties (Last meeting, 2012, Georgia 38-0)

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The quirk in the schedule didn’t really work out to our favor. But that’s what happens when you add two new teams and you’re trying to make the scheduling work, so we’re going back and looking forward to that opportunity.” — Georgia coach Mark Richt, on playing Auburn twice in a row on the road.