AUBURN – Junior Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is in elite company. He is one of four finalists for the Lombardi Award, presented annually to the nation’s top lineman.
Nick Fairley (90) leads the SEC in tackles for loss
The other finalists are Clemson defensive end D’Quan Bowers, TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick and Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
Fairley leads the Southeastern Conference in tackles for loss with 18 and is second in sacks withy 7.6. He has 125 quarterback hurries.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik declared him deserving, but said he wants still more.
“Absolutely,” Chizik said. “No question. He is very deserving, but just like I told him tonight, that’s not good enough. He has to play better in this game than he has in all the others. He’s definitely a guy that deserves it. His production, game by game, has been getting better and better. He needs to be better again Saturday.”
Fairley will have an opportunity to perform on a big stage Saturday when No. 2 Auburn (10-0, 6-0) plays Georgia (5-5, 3-4) at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers can clinch the Southeastern Conference West Division title with a victory.
FAMILY TIME: In times of difficulty, wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said Wednesday, Auburn’s football team has pulled even closer.
“The thing we talk about with family is you don’t family in slices,” Taylor said. “You take family just like they are - good, bad and ugly. That’s what family is about. We also know you don’t have to have the same last name, be the same color or be from the same town to be family. What we all go through together makes us family. That’s been pretty special with this football team.”
INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Daren Bates, cornerback T’Sharvan Bell and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen all are expected to return from the injured list and be full-speed for Saturday’s game.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: A.J. Green, Georgia’s 6-foot-6 wide receiver, will be the toughest test of the season for Auburn’s secondary, cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley said W#ednesday.
Since being suspended for the first four games, Green has caught 32 passes for 510 yards and seven touchdowns.
“I’ve said all year this guy is different,” Lolley said. “He’s the best we’ve played against. No bones about it. He’s the very best. Not only is he big, tall and can run, he’s very aggressive at the line of scrimmage. He competes so well for the ball. Great hands. Once he catches it, he’s very hard to tackle. He just does things very well.”