Mark Richt praises Nick Fairley highly

Quarterback Cam Newton immediately gets your attention when you're about to play Auburn.

But don't forget about the Tigers' defensive version of Newton. Georgia coach Mark Richt sure hasn't.

There's been an ongoing debate all season as to who was the best interior defensive lineman in the SEC -- Auburn's Nick Fairley or LSU's Drake Nevis.

Sounds like Richt would cast his vote for Fairley.

"Nick is the closest thing I’ve seen to Warren Sapp in all the years I’ve been coaching," Richt said. "He’s that big of a load, and you have to have some plan for the guy and even that doesn’t always work."

When Richt was coaching in some of those Florida State-Miami games, he said Sapp had a way of blowing up your running game and blowing up your passing game. Richt said Fairley is equally destructive and has the power and strength to body slam guys when he sacks them.

"It makes me a little nervous," Richt said.

Fairley leads the SEC with 18 tackles for loss and is second in sacks with 7 1/2.