By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn says Auburn has enjoyed "one of our best weeks of practice this whole year," even without the SEC's leading rusher participating.
The Tigers' coach said Thursday night Kamryn Pettway has spent the week in the training room after suffering a leg injury in last week's win over Vanderbilt. Pettway will make the trip to Athens for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game against Georgia, so he hasn't been ruled out.
"He has improved," Malzahn said on Auburn's Tiger Talk radio show. "He's been out there at practice; has not practiced yet. But he'll make the trip with us. He's a tough guy. And he heals quick, too."
Malzahn said earlier in the week that Pettway could play without practicing if he's cleared to play before the game.
Following offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee's lead, Malzahn praised Kerryon Johnson, who was Auburn's primary running back until he suffered an injury against Mississippi State. Pettway and Johnson have combined for 1,742 rushing yards, with Pettway's 1,106 leading the way.
"Kerryon Johnson, if he hadn't gotten hurt, would be in a great spot. He's a really a good player," Malzahn said.
Auburn, winners of six straight, is 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia is 5-4 overall and 3-4 in the league.
And an Auburn rival, something not lost on the Tigers.
"You could just see the intensity" in practice, Malzahn said. "We haven't beaten these guys over there in a long time, and we've got a lot of guys from Georgia. This is a huge game for us."
Malzahn said that intensity "didn't surprise me with the character of this team. We just need to carry that over to Georgia."
Auburn will win the SEC West should it beat Georgia and Alabama. But first things first. "The only thing on our mind is Georgia. We've had that one-game-at-a-time mentality. It's all about Georgia," Malzahn said.
"We haven't won there in a while. We're well aware of that, and our players are, too. We've got to solve that. We need go over there and get off to a good start and just play good Auburn football."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine