Alabama Gets A Rematch Against Georgia

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Alabama Gets A Rematch Against Georgia
Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The chase for the College Football Playoff will conclude with the final rankings this Sunday. Before that is one final weekend of play to determine who is in and who is out. One game this weekend that has an early playoff feel is the SEC Championship game between the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0) and the #4 Georgia Bulldogs (11-1). This will be a rematch of the 2018 National Championship game where the Tide beat the Bulldogs 26-23 in overtime with a 43-yard touchdown pass from QB Tua Tagovailoa. Since that game, the Crimson Tide have been rebranded as one of the most dominating teams to ever play. The Crimson Tide are not without flaws as the Bulldogs have the tools on offense and defense to beat them. Alabama gets a rematch against Georgia in the SEC Championship.

One More Chance For Tua Tagovailoa To Finalize Heisman Votes

Throughout the season, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been wowing the nation with his explosive and consistent play making ability. Tagovailoa has passed for 189 completions (out of 269 attempts) for 3,189 yards, 36 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions. He has been so patient in his passes as he spreads the ball throughout the field to different receivers. The Tide is ranked 6th in passing offense (332.1 yards per game), 4th in total offense (578 yards per game), and 2nd in points per game (49). Tagovailoa has thrown to four different receivers who have accounted for 35 or more receptions. His star receiver Jerry Jeudy is a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award. He has accounted for 56 receptions for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns. Tagovailoa, Jeudy, and the Tide’s passing offense will have a tough task against this talented Bulldogs defensive backs.

Georgia’s defense ranks 14th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (128.4). CB Deandre Baker is one of the best defensive backs in the nation.  He is also the most talented cornerback Alabama has faced against since LSU’s CB Greedy Williams. Baker has accounted for 37 total tackles, 28 solo tackles, 9 pass deflections, and two interceptions. Baker will likely be matched up against Jeudy or Alabama’s speedy freshman receiver in Jaylen Waddle. If given the right opportunity through play action or wearing down the defense, Tagovailoa could target Baker. Tagovailoa doesn’t have to force his throws in as he picks the best open receiver with the best opportunity to run for more yards. While his arm is dangerous, it is where Tagovailoa leads the ball directly to his receivers with huge separation with the opposing defensive back.

The Tide Offensive Line Must Be Alert Against Bulldogs Defense

The offensive line for the Crimson Tide has been tremendous this season by allowing only 11 sacks (tied for 9th lowest in the nation). They have a tough task against this Bulldogs defense that has not been explosive but has the potential to be. This season, the Bulldogs defense is ranked tied for 99th in the nation in total sacks accounted for only 20. Outside linebacker D’Andre Walker is a dangerous hybrid pass rusher has he accounted for 9 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. No other player on Georgia’s defense has accounted for 2 or more sacks throughout the season. This Bulldogs defense is still efficient in penetrating the backfield and getting to the quarterback. That is why the Tide’s offensive must remain vigilant and alert against Bulldogs defense that will try multiple blitzing schemes to cause disarray to Tagovailoa’s passing routine.

Alabama Must Prepare For Two-Headed Monster At Running Back

Usually, Alabama will be the most talented running back scheme of two or more talented backs. This time, the Georgia Bulldogs have a great duo at running back in D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield. Depending on the scheme of the opposing defense, Bulldogs offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will insert either Swift or Holyfield. Swift is a fast and elusive play maker in the running game and as an extra receiver in the passing game. Swift has rushed for 962 yards and 9 touchdowns on 139 carries for an average of 6.9 yards per rush. In the passing game, Swift has accounted for 21 receptions for 204 yards and a touchdown, averaging 9.7 yards. Swift is dangerous in outside runs and in the screen plays where he can get away from the defensive line. Holyfield is a big, punishing back who has accounted for 896 yards and 7 touchdowns on 133 carries.

Alabama defense ranks 15th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (114). The defensive line for the Tide is one of the most challenging to play against. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is one of the most dominating play makers with 16 tackles for loss accounted for this season. Defensive ends Isaiah Buggs, Raekwon Davis, and LaBryan Ray are also very efficient in stopping the run through penetration. Linebackers Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses both have great play making abilities but can misread the play. Alabama’s defense will be very successful if the linebackers have focus and play efficiently against this great Bulldogs rushing game.

Tide’s Defense Needs To Get To The Quarterback

Georgia’s offense ranks tied for 73d in the nation in passing yards per game (221) despite having a lineup of experienced players. The Bulldogs have better success when their quarterback in Jake Fromm spreads the ball throughout the field in short spurts to his talented receivers. This continues the drives, makes the running game more efficient, kills time of the clock, and tires out the defense. This season, Fromm has passed for 2,263 yards, 24 touchdowns, 5 interceptions on 161 completions (out of 233 attempts). Fromm averages 9.6 yards per completion while each of his top receivers averages 13 more yards per reception. Alabama’s defense can avoid easy completions that continues drives by sticking with tight man coverage. The Crimson Tide can also find success early and often by torturing Fromm through consistent pass rush.

Williams is a pass rushing monster. He has a huge frame and has athletic ability to fight through a double team is a big factor for the defense. Williams has also accounted for 7 sacks on the season (which is 2nd highest on the team). Defensive end Isaiah Buggs has accounted for 9.5 total sacks accounted for which the season  1st on the team. Overall, the Crimson Tide are ranked 5th in total sacks accounted for throughout the season with 40 sacks. Hybrid pass rusher in defensive end/outside linebacker Christian Miller has accounted for seven sacks. He is dangerous on the line and while blitzing. Once Alabama gets into the backfield often and forces Fromm to make mistakes, it will be much more difficult for the Bulldogs to have an efficient offense.

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