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Auburn likes to run, but passing game ready if needed

Nov. 13, 2013

Nick Marshall ready to pass for Auburn (Todd Van Emst photo)

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. — Georgia coach Mark Richt says he's not surprised Auburn hasn't thrown many passes the last few games. 

"They don't have to throw the ball," he says. 

Maybe not. The Tigers have thrown only 16 passes the last two games while rushing for 444 yards last Saturday at Tennessee, 677 yards the last two games against the Vols and Arkansas and taking a commanding lead in the SEC in rushing with 3,200 yards. 

Richt figures Georgia will get a heavy dose of that when the Bulldogs visit Auburn for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game. 

"I don't think they'll mess around throwing it too much if they don't have to," Richt said during the SEC teleconference Wednesday. 

Richt was 2-1 against Gus Malzahn when he was Auburn's offensive coordinator. 

"I think we've got a pretty good idea of the things he likes to do," Richt said. 

Malzahn has adapted his offense for Auburn's run-oriented talent this season. Still, there's always the element of doubt that maybe Auburn still hasn't shown what it is capable of doing. 

"I would hope so from the standpoint you do practice certain things," Malzahn said. "A lot of times, from an offensive standpoint, if they take away one thing, you've got to have an answer. We're constantly working on the 'what-ifs'. But as of late, we haven't had to utilize a whole lot of them." 

The Tigers are 9-1 overall and 5-1 in the SEC because it has run so effectively, so much so that Auburn is second in the league in total offense, yet 12th in passing. Georgia is 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the league with the fifth-best defense in the league. 

Malzahn has said he's willing to pass. But why bother when the opposition hasn't stopped the run? 

"When you start out a game there is a feeling-out process on how they're playing you of what you're successful with," he said. "After a couple of series, you get a feel, and if you're having success, you just keep going with what you're doing. That's been some of it the last few weeks. 

"We're going to need to throw the football before it's all said and done. We know that. We work extremely hard at practice. 

"All but the one week when Nick hurt his shoulder — he wasn't able to throw that week — we were a little more cautious there. But he's getting a lot healthier. I really believe when the time comes, he can be effective throwing the football." 

Richt said the Bulldogs are preparing for that. 

"I think they can throw the ball, and I think they can throw it well, and we believe that," he said. "We're preparing for the play-action pass. We're preparing for taking shots and all those types of things that good running teams will do to you. We've got to be ready for that. But I think they'll go into this game like a lot of other games in that they'll have a plan to do both."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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