Georgia Football: Three Reasons Alabama Will Win
Let’s temper those expectations a little bit, because we all know we’ve seen this movie before.
This isn’t the ‘Blackout’ game of 2008, where Georgia is 100% the favorite. This also isn’t the 2012 SEC Championship Game, where a very game group of Bulldogs came within five excruciating yards of a certain national championship. It falls somewhere in between, but all the chatter I’ve heard going into this week’s showdown with #13 Alabama is “when we win” followed by anything from the following:
- the schedule really opens up for us.
- we’re going to have a letdown against Tennessee next week.
- Alabama is out of the championship race.
Let’s tap the brakes here, folks.
This isn’t your ‘head and shoulders above everyone’ Alabama team of the past near-decade, but the squad in all white on Saturday is still the most talented team in college football. Enigmatic? Maybe. Minus-5 in turnovers and still had a shot to beat Ole Miss, in the latest iteration of “is the Alabama dynasty over”? You bet. This is a damn good football team.
Here’s why they should beat us on Saturday:
Greyson Lambert has yet to face live bullets.
33/35 over two games is damn impressive, don’t get me wrong. But #11 was basically throwing against air in those two games. Stack the box, run play action, stifle the pass rush, throw between the safeties and LB’s has been an effective combo since the Vandy game.
Here’s the thing with Alabama, though: they have the biggest, strongest, fastest front seven in the country. They can do a better job stopping the running game with less guys in the box than we’ve seen thus far. They’re going to manufacture pressure against the Georgia OL, and Lambert (hearkening back, for a second, to his Virginia days) has not historically performed well when flushed. I expect Lambert to throw at least one pick, and for the Bama front to double the number of sacks (3) he has taken this year.
Comparing Lambert & Johns vs. pressure last year… can’t blame the OL for the diff… pic.twitter.com/q1jxLC5vBe
— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) September 29, 2015
Yeah, we have Nick Chubb. But Bama’s run D is STOUT
Alabama’s front seven has faced historically GREAT running team Wisconsin, and damn good team Ole Miss in two of its four games this season. Even those teams (yes, a cut below Georgia’s rushing attack) are scheming away from running against Alabama, because its so damn hard to do.
In FootballStudyHall’s advanced stats, Alabama’s D ranks third in the country in success rate against the run, stopping 75.6% of runs short of a ‘successful’ (i.e., moving the chains on three downs with four-yard gains) one. Chubb is at 8.4 yards per carry himself, and Georgia’s offense ranks third itself in rushing down success rate. But something’s got to give when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. We can’t expect the easy-button explosiveness of the Georgia running game we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
I still have Alabama 2012 and Florida 2014 PTSD.
And you should too. Remember how Eddie Lacy took over the last 25 minutes of the SEC Championship game? Remember how Florida’s hapless offense marched on the edges in Jacksonville last year?
Lane Kiffin is a stubborn, annoying, probably unfaithful, boorish dude. But he’s not an idiot when it comes to offense.
Georgia is still young on the defensive line, has had no real tests against a physical O-line pushing it outside, and…oh. That physical O-line shields a 250-lb behemoth of a man in Derrick Henry.
(Lane Kiffin also doesn’t like to stretch the field horizontally, and is famous for forgetting he has the country’s third-best back. Pray for this.)
BONUS: S**t, is Georgia the new Clemson?
Clemson has made a lot of headlines this week about how unfair the perception that they lose big games is. They are 5-2 in their last seven tilts with top-1o opponents, so this may be a justified beef.
Taking final rankings into account, Georgia is 2-6 vs. top 10 opponents in the past three plus years. “But Alabama isn’t in the top 10,” you say. I think it’s a safe bet that they will be back by the end of the year.
Emotions are running high, and this blog post was NO fun to write as Saturday Between the Hedges approaches. But if we wake up on Sunday and Georgia is 4-1, there’ll be good reason why.