ATLANTA – Georgian football was put to the test by determined Alabama on Saturday afternoon, and the results saw Bulldogs fans outnumber Tide followers 3-1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when they saw Red.
The Crimson Tide upset Georgia by a 41-24 tally on Saturday in the SEC Championship game.
Alabama spotted UGA a 10-0 lead, then exploded for 24 points in the second quarter. The Bulldogs were edged 319-61 and had two three-and-out heats amid the collapse.
The Bulldogs turned the ball on the downs and recorded two second-half turnovers, including an expensive Pick 6, their relatively conservative attacking style unable to keep pace with the Crimson Tide.
Alabama edged Georgia 536 yards to 449 and was more efficient on third downs, converting 7 of 14 while Georgia was just 3 of 12 on third downs.
Crimson Tide’s defense also outscored the Bulldogs, forcing two turnovers as Georgia couldn’t force either, and recording 6 TFLs to 4 for UGA.
Stetson Bennett had 29 of 48 passes for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he also had 2 interceptions – including a Pick 6 – returned the ball with an incomplete fourth down. Bennett had 7 rushing attempts for 11 yards, including 3 sacks. Bennett played hard and did all he could, nerves weren’t the issue as he put UGA to a 10-0 lead and made some good throws. A limited ploy was the culprit, as Bennett was placed at a disadvantage for which he was not sufficiently prepared or suited.
Kenny McIntosh had the longest run among fullbacks for a second straight game, shattering a 12-yard yardstick. James Cook had 11 carries for 38 yards and 4 catches for 28 yards. Zamir White had 7 carries for 27 yards and 2 catches for 17 yards. A healthy Kendall Milton didn’t get a chance to carry the ball. Georgia’s running game was nowhere to be found in both three-and-out series in the second quarter.
George Pickens jumped 37 yards early, helping Georgia get off to a quick start. Brock Bowers was the primary target, however, making 10 catches on 16 targets for 139 yards and a touchdown. Jermaine Burton made some clutch catches, 3 for 36 yards. Darnell Washington caught a 5-yard touchdown. Ladd McConkey showed some serious throws on his 32-yard touchdown. Adonai Mitchell fell on third base on a ball thrown in heavy traffic during the collapse of the second quarter.
LIGNE OFFENSIVE (B)
Pass protection was good and the race tracks were present, but there were expensive penalties. Jamaree Salyer’s false start in the fourth quarter led Kirby Smart to modify his call to aim for a fourth and 10 on a punt on the fourth and 15. Justin Shaffer also had a false start on the 3-yard line. ‘UGA. Salyer and Shaffer are the seniors. Sophomore Broderick Jones had played well on the left tackle, but Salyer clearly wasn’t going to lose his position due to injury.
DEFENSIVE LINE (B)
Jordan Davis led the linemen with four tackles, and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt made a formidable play in the pursuit, robbing Bryce Young of football. Nolan Smith and Travon Walker were on 2 saves but didn’t make the kind of game-changing impact play. The unit didn’t do much to keep Bryce Young stranded.
Nakobe Dean was all over the field with 5 tackles, 2 assists and 2 quarterbacks in a hurry. Dean, however, missed a tackle on Young, who escaped and hit Jahleel Billingsly in the third and second yards for a gain of 22 yards. The practice ended with a placement after pressure from Dean’s QB. Linebackers couldn’t get to the quarterback in a blitz or make game-changing plays.
SECONDARY (J +)
Young clocked an SEC championship game record of 421 yards and racked up an SEC record of 461 yards. The Tide had three passes of 40 yards or more, including Jameson Williams’ 67-yard touchdowns and 55-yard touchdowns. There were three broken blankets. Lewis Cine had a record 7 tackles. Derion Kendrick was assessed 2 penalties for passing interference. Kelee Ringo was beaten on a 55-yard touchdown pass.
SPECIAL TEAMS (A)
Jake Camarda exploded a 68-yard punt, SEC championship record. Jack Podlesny had a 38-yard field goal on his only attempt in the game. Kenny McIntosh had a 25-yard kick return and Zamir White had a 20-yard kick return.
Georgia’s game plan was conservative and predictable on offense and defense, with Smart playing to not lose instead of adopting a more aggressive attack plan. The adjustments at half-time did not seem effective, especially in attack. Smart said this game could serve as a “wake-up call for his team, but during the post-match press conference he appeared to put more emphasis on the players when talking about interrupted games and assignments, more than to publicly reassess its strategy and planning. Smart has seasoned coaches by his side who have been in charge of Will Muschamp and Todd Monken’s programs, and their feedback should prove vital to the team’s ability to reset ahead of the college football playoffs.