Richard LeCounte III + Eric Stokes Jr Get Auburn
Han Vance on Georgia football: The Deeps South’s Oldest Rivalry will be played this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Between the Hedges. Georgia. Auburn. Get excited.
No that photo is not young LeCounte and Stokes. It’s Loran Smith and HAN on the way to the Liberty Bowl, photo by Richard Hilley. Loran wrote the foreword to the 2nd edition of “Richt Era: 15 Years in Athens,” some months after we met. You’ll get another chance to buy that little book, before all that much longer.
It was bad. Losing at Auburn 40-17 in the 2017 regular season, in a rare “avenged game,” where two teams would later meet again in the same college football season, with a different team winning. A somewhat likely scenario for regional neighbor of both, Alabama, versus Ol’ Georgia this season, as Bama appears to have an experience edge which could help them beat Auburn this year and win the SEC West, and on a young on offense, Georgia, who I don’t exactly love to win on the capstone at Alabama.
But, I have defense-first, talent-rich, Georgia gelling all the way by the SECCG and avenging over Bama in-state in Atlanta, in December. That is an outcome I could easily see happen, similar to what played out in the 2017 season for Georgia and Auburn.
It was good. Avenging over old Auburn in the then-new dome in Atlanta. I mention Bama because they would later beat UGA in heartbreaking fashion in that same building, as the calendar flipped to 2018.
As the SEC spins.
Before Georgia can worry about a Tennessee on a current seven-game win streak, before Georgia can have to wholly worry about Bama, it’s Auburn week. I don’t see Auburn as as big a threat to the UGA season as I do UT or Bama, because Tennessee is in a schedule slot where Georgia could be looking ahead to our white whale. And, Bama can win the SEC West by playing as they did this past Saturday, while Auburn isn’t as good.
This is not the Gus Bus. Auburn is not running a ton of plays either all called or co-called with a young coordinator, as has been the case in past recent meetings. This is a Chad Morris pass-heavy offense.
Morris was the OC at another rival to both teams, Clemson. Then he got a shot at an Arkansas where he had an uphill battle in terms of implementing an attack so different than the guy’s he replaced, who had also been fired as a head coach. Morris was in-and-out Arkansas, quickly, and he is back in the coordinator role, at Auburn.
Like I said, as the SEC spins.
This is not a strong running football team Georgia is facing, and the known strength of the Georgia team is pass defense. Safety Richard LeCounte III is the most prominent player on our team right now, and the 5-11, 190-pound senior has developed into the ball hawk I have anticipated him being at UGA, since he was a senior in high school. Eric Stokes Jr. is the best cornerback on the team, and he has been battling big, talented WR George Pickens in practice for over a year now. He has a size disadvantage in guarding Auburn’s big leaper Seth Williams. So, Dan Lanning and Kirby Smart will be rolling LeCounte over to help.
It will work.
Since that dark day in the jungle on the plains where Kirby and co. got whipped and Gus cussed, Georgia has statistically, by all main measures, had the single best defense in the whole country. In five years, Georgia is 5-1 versus their oldest rival (Feb. 20, 1892). Factually no matter how they spin it on TV or at the bar patio where the boy banter spews forth, Georgia has won 8-of-10 and 12-of-15 over Aubie. AU has not won in Athens since 2005, and Georgia still won the SEC that year, as it was a miracle, late Auburn win and the only starting QB regular season loss DJ Shockley ever had at UGA. Auburn would need another similar miracle to beat up this defense enough to win the game.
It won’t happen Saturday night in the Classic City.
For those anticipating hearing my new podcast (The Dawg Pawd): it is coming soon. We did a pilot episode and posted it at SoundCloud – you can search for it and find it – and then finalized our branding efforts, which took some time. Moving forward, you will get to hear The Dawg Pawd earlier in the weeks. But for now, we’re just getting to recording it today, Friday, so it will be an 11th hour release, again.
Blessed. In the past few days, I have heard from fellow college football media members: Tim Brando (who I occasionally verbally spar against but truly admire and share a genuine mutual respect with), Loran Smith (a friend) and legend DJ Shockley himself (my dude, as well).
Plus, UGA alum peer book authors Billy Barnard and Jeffry A. Head. My good energy and connections are paying off, y’all, in the Georgia sphere and the wider college football world. I even just got an advanced electronic copy of Head’s new Georgia humor book, which I will share a how-to-order with for y’all at some point over the next few Blawgs. I’m just 20 pages in and laughing out loud – it’s old UGA/Athens in the 1970s, when I was just a wee lad not old enough for college, on the I’m a Dawg, you’re a Dawg, so we may have a few fleas theme.
I got to know Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn (and his wife), y’all, a little bit, a few years ago in Buckhead of Atlanta when he was wrapping up a successful recruiting season, a few months after the Prayer at Jordan Hare. Nice people. I actually have a ton of Auburn friends right here in The ATL…and I want this one.