AUBURN, Ala. -- Before the season, Georgia was expected to be the top-10 team in control of its destiny when it faced Auburn in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. But instead, it’s the Tigers who are 9-1 and ranked seventh in the BCS standings. They’re just two victories away from a spot in the SEC championship.
Georgia (6-3, 4-2) is no pushover, of course. The Bulldogs have dominated the rivalry in recent years, winning eight of the last 11 games, including a 38-0 victory last season. The majority of Auburn’s team, including tight end C.J. Uzomah, has yet to beat its cross-division rival.
Uzomah, who grew up in the Peach State, took a few minutes to talk about Saturday’s game and what this Auburn team can accomplish.
What's this season been like for you and this team?
C.J. Uzomah: It's been great. We've had unbelievable amounts of confidence in ourselves. The coaches have instilled confidence in us, and we've really bought into what Coach [Gus] Malzahn says about buying into his system and what his coaches are going to be implementing in us. I think once we started to buy in to him and Coach [Ryan] Russell's workout program and everything we do in the offseason, that's what's showing this season. That's why we're doing as well as we are.
Last week, you caught a touchdown pass, but Nick Marshall only completed three passes all game. Is that reason for concern?
Uzomah: I don't think it's a concern. We were just able to run the ball. We know that if we're able to physically run the ball and get after it the way we were getting after it, the passing game doesn't really need to be there as much as it has to. We're confident in our passing game, and know that if the running game starts to falter, we'll be able to rely on Nick's arm and the receivers' hands to make the plays.
What's the team's mood been this week?
Uzomah: It's been higher than ever, knowing the past few games we've had with Georgia have been bad for us. We haven't played as well as we should have, and we know that they're going to bring their "A" game. It's another great SEC team, and they have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. We're just going to have to really get after it this week in preparation and perform on Saturday.
Is the game extra personal for you, being a Georgia native?
Uzomah: It, for sure, is a little more personal just because I'm going to be hearing some stuff from my friends saying Georgia this, Georgia that. So it's going to be a little more personal, but that's just going to give me a little extra fight.
Has there been any talk of what all this team can accomplish going forward?
Uzomah: It's hard to not look ahead. As players, it's hard to not look ahead. But Coach Malzahn and all the coaches are just like, 'Don't worry about it. Don't think about it because if you do, Georgia will come in here and smack you in the mouth, and you'll be stunned and not know what to do next.' As hard as it is to not look forward, I think that we've been doing a great job so far this year. We know the implications, but at the same time, we're taking it one game at a time.
What are the team goals right now?
Uzomah: Just win out and see where we lie afterward.