INDIANAPOLIS – Alabama reached the National Championship with just one of its two best-performing receivers this season. Jameson Williams was the starter, but John Metchie III was out of uniform after suffering a torn ACL at the SEC Championship last month against Georgia.
Heading into Monday night’s game, Williams and Metchie accounted for 56% of Alabama’s receiving yards.
Alabama lost the second half of its dynamic receiving duo late in the second quarter. Williams suffered a non-contact knee injury on a 40-yard pass play and never returned.
It was a heartbreaking ending for the former Ohio State transfer, who became a star in Tuscaloosa and was one of the keys to Alabama’s victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game. The partisan crowd fell silent as he fell, then joined in to give him a loud standing ovation as he left the field and then listened to the Alabama faithful as he returned to the locker room for further evaluation.
Before Williams left the game, he had 65 yards on four catches, leading Alabama at the time. He also had the longest play at the time with his 40-yard catch. That play led to a field goal that gave Alabama a 6-3 lead.
“Losing someone like J-Mo is tough,” Young said at the postgame press conference. “But that’s been a theme for us: overcoming adversity. A lot of guys stepped up at a great time, and those guys we were used to. And I’m tremendously proud of how we played offensively, how people stepped up. in front”.
Quarterback Bryce Young did his best to adjust, finishing with 369 passing yards, but the Tide was ultimately outmatched by Georgia in the fourth quarter and fell 33-18. The game was sealed when, one play after Alabama dropped a possible first-down reception inside Georgia’s 20-yard line, Young threw an interception that Kelee Ringo returned 79 yards and sealed the loss.
Throughout the game, Young sought more tight end Cameron Latu, who finished the night with 102 receiving yards and Alabama’s only touchdown. Latu’s highest receiving night of the season prior to Monday night was just 58 yards in November.
Agiye Hall, who previously only had 20 yards per reception this season, finished with 52 yards on just two receptions. Hall had a 28-yard reception on Alabama’s nine-play drive early in the third quarter, which also ended with a field goal.
Traeshon Holden (28 yards), Brian Robinson Jr. (28 yards), Ja’Corey Brooks (47 yards) and Slade Bolden (48 yards) also helped Alabama move the ball. Young just couldn’t do anything in the red zone. Regarding the players who stepped up, coach Nick Saban thought their experience in the game will help them improve for the upcoming season.
“I think it will help you a lot [heading into next season]”Saban said.” I think these kinds of experiences are invaluable in terms of – what’s hard is that we played some guys tonight who didn’t play much during the season. So they didn’t have a lot of experience going in. They had a few chances and they made a few plays. And I’m sure that will help your confidence. And they will grow and learn from this. And it will be a positive experience for them and their development in the future. “
Young led Alabama to a 17-play drive in the third, moving the team from its own 2-yard line to Georgia’s 30-yard line. The unit finally ended with a blocked field goal attempt. The advance lasted seven and a half minutes, but Alabama finished with zero points.
Alabama has rushed 27 plays for 139 yards in its last two drives and has three points to show for it.
Georgia 13, Alabama 12 with 12:59 left in the fourth quarter.
—Bill Bender (@ BillBender92) January 11, 2022
Young outscored Stetson Bennett by 145 yards, but only threw a touchdown pass. And, Young was tackled for loss on a two-point attempt after his touchdown. Alabama couldn’t beat Georgia’s defense: Young threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.
“It’s up to me to do better,” Young said. “People stepped up in the big moments when they were supposed to. And we had opportunities, we had opportunities. And at the end of the day I didn’t get the ball into the end zone. And that’s up to me.”
Young’s touchdown pass Monday night was his season low. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner threw 45 total touchdowns before the championship game. He threw three touchdowns when Alabama played Georgia in the SEC Championship last month.
After Alabama’s only touchdown, Georgia scored 20 unanswered points to take the national title. Alabama’s last three drives resulted in a three-and-out run for two negative yards, the pick-six and a seven-play, 16-yard drive as time ran out.
Williams, who is a junior, has not declared for the NFL Draft, and it is unclear what role his injury will play in that decision.