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AU turns full attention to UGA: IM GOING! R U?

Auburn WR Robert Dunn wasn’t looking ahead. He wasn’t going to just forget about Tennessee Tech, not worry about the Golden Eagles.

But Dunn admitted Saturday following the 35-3 win, it didn’t take him long to turn his attention to Georgia.

AP: Rob Carr
Tuberville and Auburn were looking for answers against UGA in 2006.

“When the fourth quarter ended,” said Dunn.

Dunn and the Tigers travel to Athens Saturday to face the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs, and will be trying to return the favor Georgia paid them a year ago.

Last November, a 6-4 Georgia team came into Jordan-Hare Stadium and beat the Tigers 37-15. Dunn and the Tigers remember the game well. Coach Tommy Tuberville won’t let them forget it.

Auburn was ranked No. 5 in the country at the time, but was never in the game from the first whistle. Georgia led 30-7 at the half. At the end of the day, the Dogs had racked up 446 yards of total offense. Auburn managed a mere 171.

“It’s hard to forget those type games,” said Tuberville. “Georgia came in and hit us from play one and never let up. We never recovered.”

This year, the teams come into the game with similar records. Georgia is 7-2 overall, 4-2 in the SEC. Auburn has one more out of conference loss. Georgia is ranked No. 10 in the BCS. Auburn 18.

Tuberville however, said numbers don’t matter in rivalry games like this. The Auburn-Georgia rivalry is billed as “The South’s Oldest Rivalry”.

It’s not about advancing in the conference title race, or getting a better bowl bid. With Georgia, like Alabama, it’s more about pride.

“That’s what rivalries are about,” said Tuberville. “We always talk about the last two games, about how they’ll remember the last two games. Of all the games you play, these stand out.”

AP: Dave Martin
Dunn scored his first two touchdowns at Auburn against Tech Saturday.

Particularly to Auburn players like Dunn. The former Georgia All-Classification Player of the Year at Laney High School in Augusta is one of 22 players from the Peach State on the Tigers roster.

It obviously means a little more to them, said Tuberville.

“They always step to the front,” he said.

Of the 22 roster players, several are starters or significant contributors including Dunn, RB Brad Lester (Lilburn), RB Mario Fannin (Lovejoy), RB Tristan Davis (East Point), WR Rod Smith (Snellville), TE Cole Bennett (Dalton), DL Josh Thompson (Statesboro), LB Tray Blackmon (LaGrange) and DB Aairon Savage (Albany).

“It’s a game of players. Coaches just kind of get out of the way on this one,” he said.

New backup QB

Junior Blake Field has found himself back at the No. 2 quarterback spot behind senior Brandon Cox, Tuberville said Sunday. Field will be the backup Saturday against Georgia.

Field completed 6-of-11 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown Saturday against Tennessee Tech in his first significant action since 2005. Field had been buried on the depth chart since the summer when true freshman Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle moved ahead of him.

Field however, was patient and took advantage of the opportunity.

“I thought he played well yesterday,” said Tuberville. “We had a team overmatched and he didn’t have a lot of pressure on him in terms of having to score or a big pass-rush, but Blake’s been patient.

“He’s kind of been a journeyman, gone in and out from second, third, fourth team, back to second. He’s waited his time.”

Tuberville said Burns could also continue to get reps, but the freshman struggled Saturday when given more of the offense to run. Burns was 0-for-4 passing.

Todd Van Emst
Tuberville said Field would be the backup QB against the Dogs.

“He’s young. He threw some terrible passes. He never set his feet, just trying to guide the ball,” said Tuberville. “He throws the ball much better than that. He throws it much better in practice, but that happens.

“He’s a young guy who we threw into the fire early. It will probably help him a little bit going into the spring next year. He’s going to be a good player. He’s just not used to the limelight yet.”

Workhorse at RB

Auburn’s defense will be facing one of the more talented running backs it has faced all season Saturday when the Tigers line up across from Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno.

The true freshman has rushed for 807 yards on 152 carries and six touchdowns this season. And he’s carrying a lot of the load for the Bulldogs on offense. He’s averaging 19 rushes per game and carried the ball 65 times the last two games.

“He’s been a workhorse,” said Tuberville. “He’s given them a new lease on life. Just watching him, he’s a playmaker. He runs the ball inside and outside, a lot like Carnell (Williams). He’s a very tough kid and he’ll have a future in this league.”

Injury Report

Tuberville said there was good news on the injury front: No new injuries. And the Tigers will be at or near full strength when they head to Athens.

Aairon Savage and Merrill Johnson looked very active (against Tennessee Tech), made plays, and should help this week (against UGA).

“Tristan Davis, he’s running. I don’t know whether or not if he’ll play or not, it will depend on how far he’s come by Tuesday or Wednesday. He’s close.

Linebacker Craig Stevens is doubtful.

“We’ll have to wait and see on him. He’s walking and jogging a little bit, but I don’t know if he’ll be ready. Ryan Pugh should be back. He was running just about full speed last week so he should be ready to go.”

Tight end Gabe McKenzie was banged up Saturday and may miss practice. He’s not however, expected to miss any game time.

Safety Zac Etheridge did not play against Tech, nor did Lester. Both are expected back this week.

More from Tubs…

***Auburn’s kicking game continued to struggle Saturday, particularly in the kickoff coverage. The Golden Eagles amassed more than 150 return yards against the Tigers.

Tuberville said there would some changes, and anyone could find themselves on coverage teams.

“We’re going to look at all of them. We’re going to look at who we
think will be the best the next two games in coverage,” he said. “Nobody is excluded. It’s kind of like punt protection.

Eddie Gran has full access to anybody from the quarterback on down. We’re going to do the same thing on kickoff coverage for the next two games.”

***With Pugh likely to return from injury, Tuberville said he’s leave it to OL coach Hugh Nall on whether or not the freshman would return to the starting lineup or senior King Dunlap would play.

***Auburn and Georgia will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports.

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