mcloudy.png
Wednesday June 29th, 2022 11:35AM

CFP championship: Matchups that will decide 'Bama-Georgia II

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

The last time No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia played, things could not have gone much better for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama dropped 41 points on the Bulldogs, more than double the next-highest total they have allowed this season, in the Southeastern Conference title game on Dec. 4. Bryce Young shredded Georgia's otherwise dominant defense for 421 yards passing, essentially locking up the Heisman Trophy.

So it's back to the drawing board for Georgia and just run it back for 'Bama, right?

“I don’t think you do everything the same, but I also don’t think you can make a lot of changes that the players are not going to go out and be able to play and execute with confidence,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said earlier this week.

Both teams are expecting a few new wrinkles — within reason.

"They’re not going to change up and go all Arkansas on us," Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said. “They’re not going to do that. They’re going to be Alabama. And we’re going to be Georgia. And we’re going to see who executes better.”

Arkansas was one of four SEC teams that lost to both Georgia and Alabama this season.

Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman, along with ESPN analysts Greg McElroy and Cole Cubelic, help break down the matchups that could determine Bulldogs-Crimson Tide II.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT WILL?

Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. is the best defensive player in the country. The sophomore has 17.5 sacks among 33.5 tackles for loss. Both totals lead major college football.

Georgia should feel good about its offensive tackles, especially left tackle Jamaree Salyer, who was key in shutting down Michigan star pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson in the semifinals.

But Anderson presents a different kind of challenge.

"The thing I like about Alabama is all the different things they do with him," Pittman said.

Defensive coordinator Pete Golding likes to use Anderson on stunts and slants to get him attacking different parts of the line of scrimmage.

“I think he’s best when he’s on the move,” Cubelic said.

Anderson is a game-wrecker on an Alabama defense that's a little underrated, and it will take a team effort by Georgia to neutralize him.

ATTACKING ALABAMA'S CORNERS

The Tide have shown some vulnerabilities in their secondary all season, and then senior cornerback Josh Jobe was lost for the playoff with a foot injury.

Jalyn Armour-Davis, who had been dealing with a hip problem, returned to start against Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl but was in and out of the game.

Without them, freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry and Khyree Jackson are Alabama's main cornerbacks.

If Georgia can hold off Anderson and the Alabama rush, it should find some holes in pass coverage, but can Bennett and the Bulldogs receivers take advantage?

Bennett, the former walk-on, has proved over and over that while he is no Heisman Trophy winner, he usually can get the job done.

Georgia's receivers are talented, but their best weapons are tight end Brock Bowers, who had 10 catches for 139 yards in the first game against Alabama, and running back James Cook, who had four catches for 128 yards in the Orange Bowl.

The 230-pound Bowers often lines up in receiver spots.

“That guy is a problem,” McElroy said. “And there’s not really anybody that you can put on him that is going to disrupt what he can contribute to the game.”

It might not be a matter of whether Georgia has the players to attack Alabama's secondary, but it's in the Bulldogs' DNA to play that way.

“Kirby likes to play physical football and get big with people and bully them, and it’s hard to bully Alabama,” said Pittman, who was Georgia's offensive line coach for four seasons under coach Kirby Smart before taking over at Arkansas in 2020.

HOW HEALTHY IS ALABAMA'S O-LINE?

The story of the first Alabama-Georgia matchup was the Tide's offensive line.

“Their offensive line played better in that game than they had possibly all year,” Pittman said.

The Bulldogs' defense has 45 sacks this season and the SEC title game was the only one in which it was shut out.

Cubelic said it seemed as if Georgia didn't have a well-thought out plan for pressuring Young the way LSU and Auburn did.

Smart was Saban's defensive coordinator before becoming coach at Georgia, and Pittman said their defensive schemes still have a lot in common. The Bulldogs and Tide mostly play straight up on second and third down, with lots of pressures and more exotic looks on third down. Especially those twists and blitzes that attack the middle of an offensive line.

The Tide tinkered with their line this season and found a combination they liked late but could be forced to make more changes in the title game. Right guard Emil Ekyior (shoulder) and right tackle Chris Owens (ankle) both left the Cotton Bowl with injuries.

Meanwhile, All-America nose tackle Jordan Davis and the Georgia defensive front reverted back to regular-season form against Michigan.

NO METCHIE

Maybe the biggest difference between the first and second meeting when Alabama has the ball is that the Tide will be without second-leading receiver John Metchie to complement All-America deep threat Jameson Williams.

Metchie was lost for the season against Georgia with a knee injury, but not before he had six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. Alabama always has another receiver, but nobody else is as much as of a run-after-the-catch threat as Metchie.

“Now Slade Bolden can kind of be that a little bit in the slot,” McElroy said. “The young guys are great, but they’re still going to miss that presence.”

RUSSO'S PREDICTION: Picking against Saban and Alabama twice in the same season is never wise but: GEORGIA 28-24.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

  • Associated Categories: Sports, College Sports, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, College Sports, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - College Football
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Prince Andrew effort to toss sex assault suit hits roadblock
A judge appears mostly dismissive of arguments by a lawyer for Prince Andrew who wants to win fast rejection of a lawsuit filed by a woman who says she was sexually trafficked to the royal by the millionaire Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17
5:23PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Elizabeth Holmes saga still has some loose ends to resolve
A jury has ended the suspense surrounding the fraud trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes by finding her guilty on four of the 11 charges facing her, but some issues in the legal drama remain unresolved
5:19PM ( 16 minutes ago )
CDC posts rationale for shorter isolation, quarantine
U.S. health officials are explaining why they recently shortened their COVID-19 isolation and quarantine recommendations
5:17PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Jalen Hurts asks Washington for response to railing collapse
Jalen Hurts is asking the Washington Football Team to take action after narrowly escaping harm when fans fell onto the field because a railing in the corner of FedEx Field gave way as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback was walking into the tunnel after Sunday’s game
4:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
Smart, Georgia trying to stop skid against Saban, Alabama
Kirby Smart and Georgia get a chance to snap their losing streaks against Alabama in the biggest game of the season
3:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
After COVID-19, No. 5 UCLA waits to play 1st game in weeks
The UCLA men's basketball team is back after a nearly two-week shutdown because of COVID-19
3:02PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Roethlisberger, Steelers top Browns to stay in playoff mix
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 123 yards and a touchdown in likely his final start at Heinz Field as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat Cleveland 26-14
1:28AM ( 16 hours ago )
Morant leads Grizzlies over Nets; Antonio Brown looking on
Ja Morant scored 36 points and five Grizzlies scored in double figures as Memphis extended its winning streak to five games with a 118-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets
11:18PM ( 18 hours ago )
Bucs coach: Antonio Brown didn't claim injury before walkoff
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are moving on from Antonio Brown, whose NFL career is on hold again after yet another messy departure
10:37PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Online Football
South Carolina stays No. 1 in women's AP Top 25 despite loss
South Carolina remains the No. 1 team in The Associated Press women’s college basketball poll despite its first loss of the season
1:58PM ( 1 day ago )
Baylor, Duke remain 1-2 in AP Top 25 poll with few changes
Baylor kept its firm hold on No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll with few changes at the top and no new teams entering the latest rankings
1:46PM ( 1 day ago )
Williams, Louisville beat Georgia Tech 67-64
Malik Williams made 9 of 12 from the field and finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds to help Louisville beat Georgia Tech 67-64
8:52PM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
Young scores NBA season-best 56 points; Blazers beat Hawks
Anfernee Simons had a career-high 43 points and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame an NBA season-best 56 points by Atlanta’s Trae Young, snapping a four-game losing streak in a 136-131 win over the Hawks
1:52AM ( 15 hours ago )
Blazers top Hawks, weather Young's NBA season-best 56 points
Anfernee Simons had a career-high 43 points and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame an NBA season-best 56 points by Atlanta’s Trae Young, snapping a four-game losing streak in a 136-131 win over the Hawks
12:56AM ( 16 hours ago )
Thousands of flights canceled, delayed at start of workweek
A winter storm hitting the mid-Atlantic combined with the pandemic to further frustrate air travelers whose return flights home from the holidays were canceled or delayed in the first few days of the new year
7:27PM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
North Carolina QB Sam Howell to forgo senior season for NFL
North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell is forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft
6:34PM ( 2 days ago )
No. 9 Oklahoma State beats No. 5 Notre Dame 37-35 in Fiesta
Spencer Sanders accounted for 496 yards and threw three of his four touchdown passes to Tay Martin, and No. 9 Oklahoma State overcame a 21-point deficit to beat No. 5 Notre Dame 37-35 in the Fiesta Bowl
6:27PM ( 2 days ago )
New coach, old pain: Notre Dame unravels in Fiesta loss
A promising young coach, a souped-up passing game and a couple turnover gifts from Oklahoma State’s offense weren’t enough to end Notre Dame’s January postseason misery
6:23PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - College Football
Prince Andrew effort to toss sex assault suit hits roadblock
A judge appears mostly dismissive of arguments by a lawyer for Prince Andrew who wants to win fast rejection of a lawsuit filed by a woman who says she was sexually trafficked to the royal by the millionaire Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17
5:23PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Elizabeth Holmes saga still has some loose ends to resolve
A jury has ended the suspense surrounding the fraud trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes by finding her guilty on four of the 11 charges facing her, but some issues in the legal drama remain unresolved
5:19PM ( 16 minutes ago )
CDC posts rationale for shorter isolation, quarantine
U.S. health officials are explaining why they recently shortened their COVID-19 isolation and quarantine recommendations
5:17PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Live updates: Detroit schools go remote amid latest surge
The tens of thousands of students in the Detroit school district will resume classes at home with laptops, at least through Jan. 14
5:05PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Rep. Bobby Rush formally announces he won't seek reelection
Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois has formally announced he won't seek a 16th term in the U.S. House
5:05PM ( 30 minutes ago )