INDIANAPOLIS – Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked if he heard or heard any reports of a global drought in a program that revived the 1980 college football season.
Smart provided a informative response to the coaches’ teleconference on Sunday.
“No, I can’t,” said Smart. “What I hear is how we stop Bryce Young and how we run in front of them and how we run the ball, how we throw the ball skillfully, how we turn the third downs and stop in the red.”
Suffice to say, Smart is locked on No. 1 Alabama (13-1) ahead of the College Football Playoff tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday. To end the drought of international competition, No. 3 Georgia (13-1) are set to break seven Alabama losing games that started in 2008.
Smart is on point, too. If Georgia wants to win, then the look starts with Alabama quarterback. Here are three key Bulldogs keys:
Young won the Heisman Trophy in a 41-24 victory over Georgia in the SEC gym in Dec. 4. He hit 26 in 44 runs for 421 yards with three touchdowns, plus three carry 40 yards and another score. Alabama lifted 536 yards total offense against a cross that allowed 258.3 yards in his first 12 games.
“We talk about him as Houdini because he can make people miss,” Smart said. “He took the ball away. People don’t even count the number of times the boy has avoided bagging and throwing the ball with no intention of catching it. But he knows where to throw the ball so he doesn’t pick up the bag.”
Georgia had no bag in the first meeting, so the secret would be to fall under pressure with Nakobe Dean and Devonte Wyatt, who had two runs each in the first meeting. Will Georgia Security Coordinator Dan Lanning use Dean as a regular spy? That is another visual trend.
Alabama receiver John Metchie III has come out with a torn ACL, and now Georgia could focus on stopping Jameson Williams, who scored seven for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the first leg.
Dean said the Bulldogs are looking at all possible options.
“Anything, really,” Dean said. “We’re looking at every little thing we use, the system he used and how we can take advantage of the other things we did.”
Have a running game
This is a common saying in every competitive game, but Smart said there is a different level of similarity when dealing with Alabama.
“You could win on the scrimmage line and you could lose the game because of the explosive game,” Smart said. “That’s what you have to be careful about.”
Georgia reduced Alabama to 115 yards in the first leg. This needs to be repeated, as Crimson Tide running back Brian Robinson freed for 204 yards in the 27-6 Cotton Bowl semifinal victory against Cincinnati. Note the amount of speed in the last seven games:
|Year||To try||Mayadi||To try||Mayadi|
* CFP competitive game
** SEC winning games
Statistics show that Georgia should run the ball 40 times with three of Zamir White, James Cook and Kenny McIntosh. This could reduce the amount of Alabama opportunities on the offensive side.
This could have eased the pressure on Stetson Bennett, who finished 29 of 48 for 340 yards and hit three times in the SEC’s rival game. He also threw two ways. Georgia wants the game to be played in the top 20s.
Big-time players appear
Georgia Brock Bowers – who scored 10 yards out of 139 yards and scored in the first leg – are out of contention for Alabama’s seven full-backs, and should expect a better presentation on the sets by receiver George Pickens. The Bowers have six touchdowns in the last four Bulldogs games.
All-American defense Jordan Davis is another key. Can they distort the Crimson Tide error from the inside? He had four weapons in the first race, and he should be a key factor in the first drop. In the end, Georgia needs to set up a bad defense system that only allows 9.6 points per game. Davis said he hopes the Bulldogs will change again against Alabama.
It was the one shown in the 34-11 Michigan reign in the Orange Bowl tournament.
“Our defense is what you have seen in the last 12 weeks in the regular season,” Davis said. “Alabama, he gave us a little strength. He threw a lot of grass and we couldn’t answer the way we wanted.
“But over time, you get better,” he said. “You learn a lot about yourself as a defense. You learn a lot about Alabama this time you go to the game. So for sure this time they definitely will be different.”