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Game of musical chairs at quarterback will impact latest chapter in Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) celebrates a first down near the end of the third quarter of a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Auburn won 26-10.
Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) celebrates a first down near the end of the third quarter of a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Auburn won 26-10. Sam Craft

Auburn hosts Georgia Saturday with the all-time series between the schools tied 55-55-8.

Which SEC rival will take the edge in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry? The deciding factor could be how the quarterbacks play. 

All four of them.

On the SEC’s weekly teleconference Wednesday, Georgia coach Mark Richt said his plan was to rotate quarterbacks for a second straight week.

“I think you will, definitely be more than one guy taking snaps back there,” Richt said.

In a 27-3 loss to Florida, Richt experimented with Faton Bauta starting at quarterback. Bauta threw four interceptions in an ugly loss to the Gators.

Greyson Lambert, who opened the season as the Bulldogs’ starter, returned to the lineup in a 27-3 win over Kentucky last week, going 6 of 13 for 64 yards with a touchdown.

Brice Ramsey rotated with Lambert completing 4 of 6 passes for 26 yards. The sophomore played much of the second half in a 38-10 loss to Alabama earlier in the season. 

An injury to star running back Nick Chubb combined with inconsistency at the quarterback situation brought Georgia’s hot 4-0 start to a screeching halt. The Bulldogs lost three of four, and went eight quarters without a touchdown going into the matchup against Kentucky.

Richt sees similarities in the way Georgia and Auburn have gone back and forth at the quarterback position this season.

“We’ve had kind of the same thing back there,” Richt said.

Injuries have dictated Auburn’s recent round of indecision at quarterback.

Quarterback Jeremy Johnson started for an injured Sean White in a 26-10 upset win over Texas A&M.

White suffered a left knee injury against Arkansas, and either suffered a second injury or a setback with the knee to force him to miss the game in College Station.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn alluded to a second injury on Monday, but wouldn’t clarify those comments during his appearance on the SEC teleconference.

White practiced Tuesday and Wednesday in a limited capacity. 

“He’s looking better,” Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said, Wednesday night. “He has practiced yesterday and today, which is a lot more than he’s done the last two weeks. He’s definitely steadily improving.”

Both coaches declined to reveal how the quarterbacks were splitting the first team reps on practice this week.

“He’s gotten some quality reps,” Lashlee said, of White. “We’re trying to be smart with him, but he’s getting better. It has been a positive sign.”

Earlier in the week, Malzahn expressed enthusiasm over Auburn’s current quarterback situation with coaches having confidence in both quarterbacks. He left the door open again Wednesday at the possibility both will play at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday.

“It is a possibility you will see both,” Malzahn said. “We want to see how he does today and tomorrow, probably will be able to make a better call Thursday or Friday.”

Richt has Georgia preparing for both players, and complimented them saying “they have been to war” against great defenses. 

“I got a feeling we’ll see both those guys,” Richt said.

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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