Georgia at Auburn: Pregame notes

semerson@macon.comNovember 16, 2013 

Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium about three hours from kickoff.


AUBURN - - A few more Georgia lineup notes:

- It appears Merritt Hall is starting again at fullback, ahead of Quayvon Hicks. I'd expect them both to play.

- The starters in a two-receiver set were Michael Bennett and Rantavious Wooten. The next two were Chris Conley and Rhett McGowan.

Matthews back starting

Tray Matthews is returning to the starting lineup, judging by pregame warmups (which are the best gauge) and the announced starting lineup.

It would be the freshman's first start since the LSU game. He hurt his hamstring the subsequent week in practice, and when he was healthy enough to return, against Florida, he didn't play. Matthews did play last week against Appalachian State, but fellow freshman Quincy Mauger started his fifth straight game.

Conley set to play

Chris Conley looks good to go, albeit still not quite 100 percent.

The Georgia receiver is in uniform and went through warmups with the other receivers, catching passes. He didn't have a trainer near him, and I never saw him in any obvious pain.

The guess here is he plays, but on a limited basis.

On an unrelated note, there was a somewhat comical scene for Georgia in warmups: Tight ends coach John Lilly working with just two guys, Arthur Lynch and Hugh Williams. Alone in the end zone, Lilly would pass to Lynch, then pass to Williams, and then .... Well, wait for Lynch to circle back to the front of the "line."

Conley and Gurley updates

Chris Conley was on the field for awhile in the early warmup period, testing his ankle. Conley didn't do much full-speed, but he ran routes and caught passes, staying on the field just a bit longer than everybody else.

Mark Richt told Tracy Wolfson a little earlier that Conley will not start, but they'll watch him in pregame and hope he can contribute.

Meanwhile, Todd Gurley was running some 50-yard sprints, perhaps in an effort to get conditioning right. Gurley said earlier in the week he hoped it would be cold today, to help his stamina, but right now it's in the low 60s.

Georgia's old friend

It's a bit weird to see Rodney Garner in Auburn orange. The former Georgia assistant coach is on the field now, exchanging hugs with various Georgia people, including Todd Gurley, various players, and even Chris Wilson, his replacement.

And Loren Smith has corralled Garner for an on-field interview.

Garner and Mike Bobo spent awhile talking too, then left with a hug.

Dress list update

Chris Conley is on the dress list for Georgia, as expected. Whether he plays, and how much, remains an open question.

A few other notes from Georgia's travel roster:

- The quarterbacks on the trip are the same as the past couple road games: Aaron Murray, Hutson Mason, Parker Welch and Faton Bauta.

- The only tight ends are Arthur Lynch and Hugh Williams.

- By contrast there are nine receivers here: Michael Erdman, Blake Tibbs, Kenneth Towns, Rantavious Wooten Jonathon Rumph, Rhett McGowan, Reggie Davis, Michael Bennett and Conley.

- Starting left guard Dallas Lee is here, after missing parts of some practices with an elbow issue.

- Defensive linemen Toby Johnson and Chris Mayes are both here, so Georgia's run defense should be at full strength. Johnson has missed the past two games, and Mayes missed practice earlier in the week but returned.

Hello from ...

Jordan-Hare Stadium. It feels like I've been here a lot lately. Mainly because I have.

This is Georgia's third visit to Auburn in four years, and second straight, thanks to that quirk in SEC scheduling. So here we are again, after braving traffic in what is notoriously one of the most congested gamedays in the SEC.

So what's the feel for this game? The more I've looked at the stats for both teams, the more I think Georgia has a good chance to win this game. (Georgia's run defense, Auburn's schedule, Georgia with Todd Gurley in the lineup.) But the home crowd and momentum favor Auburn.

It is weird, when you think about it, that the nation's No. 7-ranked team is only a three-point favorite at home over the No. 25-ranked team. Normally that means Las Vegas is goading people into betting on Auburn because it has faith in Georgia. Las Vegas has been wrong before, but is usually right, so we shall see.

Jay Rome out

A bit of news this morning, courtesy of Jay Rome's Twitter account: The sophomore tight end told a follower that he's out for the season because of his foot injury, saying he tore a ligament and might have surgery. We'll wait to see if UGA offers up any confirmation.

Rome has nine catches for 99 yards and no touchdowns this season.

Georgia is getting back starting tight end Arthur Lynch (15 catches for 243 yards and two touchdowns) after missing one game with a rib injury. Senior walk-on Hugh Williams (no catches this year) is the backup. The team doesn't want to burn the redshirt of freshman Jordan Davis, who didn't even make the trip.

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