The last time Auburn played a top-five opponent, it couldn’t keep the opposing defense out of the backfield.
Auburn allowed a staggering 11 sacks to Clemson in a 14-6 loss. The chemistry between the offensive line and quarterback Jarrett Stidham didn’t seem to go so well early on, which contributed to this poor start in this department.
In fact, lowly Georgia Southern, which fired head coach Tyson Summers midseason, tallied three sacks against Auburn in the season opener.
But as Georgia head coach Kirby Smart sees it, things have changed with how Auburn has been able to protect the quarterback.
The Tigers have been able to adjust and improve in this area. Over the following seven games, Auburn has reduced the sacks allowed number to only 10.
“I think there is a little misnomer there with that because when you watch that game they are not the same team now that they were then,” Smart said. “They are not the same offensive line now that they were then. Clemson certainly has some really elite rushers, and they got after them. It was also their quarterback’s first time playing at Auburn in a big game in a situation like that, so I don’t really go much off that. Clemson has their personnel and they play the way they play.”
While the sack numbers have gone down in total, Auburn did allow LSU to record three in a loss and saw Texas A&M pick up two last Saturday in a win. There would appear to be ways Georgia can apply heat on Stidham when he is in passing situations.
Georgia will look to put plenty of pressure on Stidham, much like Clemson did in the second week of the season. The Bulldogs have been able to get after the quarterback at a greater pace the past two weeks.
After failing to register sacks against Vanderbilt and Missouri, Georgia, which has 17 sacks this season, picked up five against Florida and two against South Carolina.
“We need to get pressure to affect the quarterback, but you also have to cover the guys out there they have running the routes,” Smart said. “They have some really fast guys out there running their routes, so the big thing is stopping the run and not giving up big plays.”