AUBURN, Ala. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray gave Auburn a scare in the first quarter Saturday, throwing for three touchdowns in a 21-0 run.
But our guys kept cranked up, Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. When you can pressure with four and get heat on the quarterback, that changed the whole deal, and thats been something our guys have been able to do consistently all year.
By the start of the third quarter, the Auburn pass rush was pushing back and cutting down on Murrays connection with receiver A.J. Green and holding the Bulldogs to 10 points in the second half.
Murray managed to pass for 273 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Green, but little of it came when it mattered.
By the time the dust from a first-half shootout cleared, the Tigers pass rushing crew had its best collective day in weeks. Defensive end Antoine Carter had a sack, his first in four games, and he and fellow defensive lineman Nick Fairley had four tackles apiece. Defensive end Nosa Eguea, who had half a sack before Saturday, had two against Georgia.
The Tigers sacked Murray twice and backup Hutson Mason once in the second half and forced Georgia to rely on a 7-yard Washaun Ealey run and a 28-yard Blair Walsh field goal to get on the board through the third and fourth quarters.
That fiery first-half offense never showed up again.
Our guys did a good job of, when we werent sacking (Murray), at least affecting him in the pocket to where he couldnt sit back, pat the ball and look for A.J. Green to come open, Roof said of the second half. He did enough of that in the first half.
It appeared that the Tigers were in for a long game when Murray threw two touchdown passes to Green and another to tight end Shaun Chapas during the 21-0 first-quarter run, and Chizik said he was especially concerned with shutting down Green.
I know we certainly tried everything we had, Chizik said. They made some great throws to him, he made some great catches.
And the Bulldogs continued to throw the ball to Green, who finished with 162 yards on nine catches. But once Fairley returned from a shoulder injury and the pressure shifted heavily at Murray, Green saw fewer and fewer opportunities coming his way.
I made some big plays, but it wasnt enough, Green said. (Georgia is) a great team with a great defense, and they were the better team (Saturday).