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Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno has rushed for 541 yards in the Bulldogs' last three games.
AP photo by John Bazemore
Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno has rushed for 541 yards in the Bulldogs' last three games.

Georgia's Moreno reminds AU of Cadillac

By Ross Dellenger · 340-2460

AUBURN — Georgia coach Mark Richt has a personnel controversy this week.

It’s one, though, he must love to have.

Richt will have to choose who to start at running back for Saturday’s game against Auburn.

Will it be budding true freshman Knowshon Moreno, who has amassed 541 rushing yards in the last three games? Or the guy he replaced a few games ago, senior Thomas Brown, who is returning from a broken collarbone he suffered a month ago?

“All the fans are talking about it,” Richt said, “and I’m getting a lot of questions about it.”

Richt has said Brown will play, but it’s not likely the coach will push aside the hottest player on his team. Moreno has rushed for 1,003 yards and scored nine touchdowns this season.

During the last three outings — his only starts of the year — Moreno ran for 157, 188 and 196 yards.

Auburn players and coaches are comparing the 5-foot-11, 207-pounder to Carnell Williams, a running back on the Tigers’ 2004 SEC championship team. He now plays for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucs.

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said Moreno runs “inside and outside, a lot like Carnell.

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said watching Moreno on videotape reminds him of scouting Williams when he was the defensive coordinator at LSU.

Moreno wears No. 24, the same as Williams.

“Same number, same running style, jump-cut runner and just a very explosive runner,” Muschamp said.

Auburn proved it can stop just about any running back when the Tigers shut down the Arkansas duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

The two were combining for more than 240 yards before facing Auburn. Neither broke 50 yards against the Tigers.

Muschamp’s crew is ranked third and the SEC and 24th in the nation, giving up only 114 yards on the ground a game.

So why should Auburn worry about Moreno and Brown?

“Georgia can throw the football much better,” Muschamp said. “They are much more equipped to throw the ball down the field in the intermediate passing game and vertical passing game.”

Auburn had little to worry about through the air against the one-dimensional Razorbacks.

The Tigers stacked the line of scrimmage, sometimes bringing nine men within 5 yards of the line.

They won’t have that luxury Saturday.

“We’ll take the challenge just like we did against Arkansas,” Auburn defensive tackle Josh Thompson said. “We’ll be prepared for them.”

Thompson said he knows the Auburn defense won’t shut down Moreno entirely.

“I’m sure he’s going to break some long runs. I’m sure he’ll have some good carries,” Thompson said, “but we’ll get after them a little bit, see what we can do.

Auburn at Georgia

2:30 p.m.

Five things you might not know about Georgia

  • Although Georgia is currently on top of the SEC East, the Bulldogs do not control their own destiny to get to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta because they lost earlier in the season to Tennessee. If the Vols win their remaining games, they will win the East Division. But Tennessee has three remaining conference games (Arkansas and Vanderbilt at home and at Kentucky), while Georgia has just two (Auburn and Kentucky at home).

  • Georgia is No. 1 in just one SEC statistical category: red zone offense. The Bulldogs have moved inside the opponent’s 20-yard line 34 times this season, scoring a field goal or touchdown 32 times. UGA has scored 24 touchdowns and made all eight of its field goal attempts from inside the 20.

  • UGA quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is 13-4 as a starter, threw 13 interceptions to seven touchdowns last season. This season, Stafford has 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.

  • Georgia has two former Auburn All-Americans on its coaching staff. Assistant head coach/defensive line/recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner played at Auburn during 1984-1988, captaining the Tigers’ 1988 SEC championship team. Offensive line coach Stacy Searels played at Auburn during 1984-87.

  • Georgia coach Mark Richt graduated from Miami but spent 15 years coaching at rival Florida State under Bobby Bowden. Richt was Bowden’s offensive coordinator for six years during 1994-2000.

    Ross Dellenger

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