INDIANAPOLIS – The day before the day, Alabama coach Nick Saban and Georgia coach Kirby Smart agreed to do a virtual press conference together, and that cursory exercise taught us a lot about why there are so many reasons to believe that The Crimson Tide will understand what is necessary. to win the college football playoff championship game.
15 questions were asked during the allotted time. Since this was a joint interview, it was necessary for the reporters to identify which of the two men they were addressing. Now, four of the questions requested to be answered by both, five were submitted to Saban and six were to Smart.
Each of the six reporters addressed Smart as “Kirby.”
Each of the five reporters addressed Saban as “Coach Saban”.
Yeah, Nick Saban was there, did that, bought the shirt. And the shirt said “Coach Saban.”
To win this game, it seems all the Crimson Tide needs to do is manage not to miss out on the six-block bus ride to Lucas Oil Stadium. Saban has coached his teams in seven national championships. That’s more than Bear Bryant, more than Woody Hayes, more than Frank Leahy, and whatever other coach you want to name is not really in the conversation.
If it were that simple, of course, Saban would have more than seven titles. There are no coaches with his level of performance. He always faces those inferior to him. But the sport is practiced by young men. Things happen.
So here are the things Alabama must do to win eight championships for Saban and 13 during the polling age, from 1936 onward, for Crimson Tide:
When the Bulldogs and Tide met for the SEC Championship in early December, Georgia had just 109 rushing yards and neither player had more than 38. When Tide beat Cincinnati in the playoff semifinals, they let running back Jerome Ford loose. for 77 yards, but that was three more yards than the Bearcats managed as a team.
Georgia is going to want to run the ball. The less the Bulldogs see Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, the happier they will be. But Alabama is the No. 4 rushing defense in the FBS, allowing just 82.1 yards per game and just eight rushing touchdowns all year.
It is up to Phidarian Mathis and Co. to be pushed to the front, outside linebackers Will Anderson and Dallas Turner establish the lead and inside defenders Christian Harris and Henry To’o To’o maintain the integrity of the gap. If Georgia is forced into a situation where it must pitch more than 30 times, Alabama will be celebrating.
In almost every game Alabama struggled in this year, the opposing team spent as much time in Tide’s backfield as the guys in red helmets.
Auburn carried seven bags up. Texas A&M and LSU managed four each. Do you know how many the Bulldogs got while getting their butt kicked in the SEC Championship? As many as I had. Georgia came into that game with a plan to establish himself as one of the best defenders ever, but came out with zero sacks and 41 points tattooed on his collective ego.
Young fell just twice in the Cincinnati game, but remember, Tide chose to emphasize its significant advantages in size and strength along the line by running the ball on two-thirds of their offensive plays. It wasn’t terrible for Young to be sacked just twice by the Bearcats in 30 kickbacks, but it wasn’t great.
The less pressure Young faces, the more he will frustrate UGa.
When examining how a soccer game might unfold, this is the factor that is most often overlooked. Because it’s hard to predict when a lineman might put a finger on a pass that alters its trajectory and allows a defensive back to intercept it, or when a running back might mishandle the ball and allow it to drift with just the right hit.
However, the only time in the second half that Cincinnati had a chance to make the Cotton Bowl competitive was when Young felt pressure from lineman Curtis Brooks in front of him and threw a shot that went over the head of his receiver and was intercepted by All. -American corner Bryan Cook at 50. The Tide was leading 17-6 at the time, with almost 5 minutes to go in the third quarter. That kind of mistake could be decisive against the Bulldogs.
Alabama is just over-9 in turnovers. The team has lost six fumbles and recovered only five, and has intercepted 15 passes to the five from the opposition. That’s not going to change a lot of games. So Alabama must play wisely and with opportunity.
The truth is, winning the rotation battle may simply mean not losing it.