Auburn, Ala.--For the first time in many years, the Auburn Tigers will suit up a junior varsity squad for an actual game as the team will take on visiting Georgia Military College from Milledgeville on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Not your everyday opponent, GMC is ranked first in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll. Georgia Military will bring in a talented and very dangerous team to Jordan-Hare Stadium and they should present a huge challenge to an Auburn squad that has not yet played or practiced together as a junior varsity team. The Auburn squad will not include players who are being redshirted.
Sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story about a football team, but in the case of this team they say plenty. Undefeated in seven games, Georgia Military has allowed just 35 points in those seven contests and no more than seven in any one game. If that stat alone isn’t enough, there are plenty more.
Led by linebackers Sam Evans (6-0, 205) and Kenny Edwards (6-0, 220), this defense has allowed -37 yards rushing this season on 184 attempts. That’s right, they’re holding their opponents to an average of negative 5.3 yards rushing per game. It doesn’t get much better for opponents in the passing game as GMC allow sjust 85.5 yards per game through the air and has accumulated 35 sacks and 17 interceptions, returning four for touchdowns.
Evans is the unquestioned leader of the defense with a team-high 41 tackles to go along with six sacks, six quarterback pressures and four tackles for a loss. Edwards is second on the team with 36 tackles, including eight ackles for a loss. In the secondary Brian Staley (5-11, 170) and Warren Butler (6-0, 170) are the main cogs for a ferocious pass defense. In seven games Staley has six interceptions for 25 yards and one touchdown while Butler has five interceptions with 123 yards of returns and one touchdown. As a team they have four interception returns for touchdowns and six total defensive scores.
On offense the name of the game is smash-mouth for Georgia Military. Tailback Derrick Wimbush (6-2, 195) leads an attack that comes in averaging 281.4 yards per game with 18 touchdowns scored. Averaging nine yards per carry on 85 runs this season with 10 touchdowns, Wimbush is an explosive player but isn’t a one-man show in this backfield. Quarterback John Little (6-1, 190) is also a dangerous runner with 405 yards on the season and two touchdowns. Gavin Warner (6-2, 208) is also used in the backfield as has run for 242 yards and one touchdown this season.
Through the air Little has been effective but not outstanding. With 39 completions in 94 attempts for 614 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions, it’s a good bet to assume that he won’t beat you with his arm. When he throws the ball there is a good chance that Mario Brown (5-9, 197) will be somewhere close by. With 16 catches for 265 yards and three touchdowns, he is the go-to guy for this team and cannot be overlooked. Also chipping in is Rick Stokes (5-10, 180) with 10 catches for 128 yards.
While Georgia Military is a known quantity, the same can’t be said of Auburn's team. Because the team will rely on scout team players and other walk-ons, many of the quarterbacks, running backs, linemen and receivers haven't had much of a chance to run Auburn’s offense. Because of that, don't be surprised to see quarterbacks Jacob Allen and A.J. Tamburo running some plays that are not in offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone's playbook.
For several Tigers who have made position changes, this will be a chance to show the coaching staff what, if any, progress they have made. That group includes players like Nate French (defensive tackle to offensive guard), Ronald Samuel (offensive guard to defensive tackle) and Allen Tillman (quarterback to wide receiver).
Ryan Broome (blocking in blue) sees most of his action at practice. On Thursday the redshirt freshman offensive tackle will start for the Tigers.
You can expect that this Auburn team will play hard because for many of them it will be the only time they step onto the playing field at Jordan-Hare for a real game. Even though it’s just a JV contest, the experience is one many will never forget and for that alone they are to be commended. For every Ryan Broome and Mayo Sowell that will likely see some playing time, there is a (wide receiver) Sam Rives and (whip) Brett Holliman who will probably only get to play in these types of games.
Tommy Tuberville offered his lesser-known or seldom-used Tigers some added incentive for this game when he said that if someone really stands out on Thursday the coaching staff will consider playing time for that person when the Tigers travel to Georgia at week from Saturday.
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