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Alabama WR Jameson Williams Would Have Helped, But In The End, Tide Couldn’t Stop Georgia

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Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams could have made all the difference in the world in the Crimson Tide’s 33-18 loss to Georgia in the national championship game Monday night in Indianapolis.

But he injured his knee in the second quarter on a 40-yard reception that set up a field goal for a 6-3 Alabama lead. In just over a quarter of play, he had four catches for 65 yards.

Alabama was already without its other elite receiver, John Metchie III, who was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in the Tide’s 41-24 win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4.

Those two receivers combined to catch 175 passes for 2,714 yards and 23 touchdowns for Alabama (13-2) in the 2021-22 season. Only one other receiver had more than 40 catches and only two had more than 400 receiving yards.

So in the biggest game of his life, quarterback Bryce Young was left with basically backup receivers other than Slade Bolden, who had 42 catches for 408 yards on the season. And it showed. Young often put passes right there, but they were dropped at critical times.

Young threw to seldom-targeted sophomore Jahleel Billingsley four times, and Billingsley finished with no receptions. Young threw to seldom-targeted freshman Agiye Hall eight times, and Hall caught two passes. Some of this was coverage. Some of this was backups pushed into key roles with Metchie’s and Williams’ injuries. And there were drops.

“There’s no question that you win with great players,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Jameson Williams. “So when you take him out of the lineup, it has to have some impact. J’Mo was a great player for us all year. He made a lot of explosive plays. And I think any time you lose players like him and John Metchie III, it certainly has some impact on how you can perform offensively. We played some guys tonight that didn’t get to play much during the season. So they didn’t have much experience going in.”

“Losing someone like J’Mo is tough,” Young said and went on diplomatically.

Young, though, may not have had the time to get the ball enough to Williams or Metchie to make a difference. He was sacked four times and hurried mercilessly throughout the game and threw two interceptions partly because of a different rush scheme by Georgia (14-1). It didn’t help that Alabama could not run the ball. The Bulldogs held the Tide to 30 net yards rushing on 28 carries.

This is why Young put it up a season-high 57 times, completing 35 for 369 yards and one touchdown.

“I think they switched up some stuff, had different tendencies,” said Young, who was not sacked once in the previous Georgia game. He was beat up in this one.

Still, Alabama had its chances, but had to settle for two short field goals in the first half instead of touchdowns along with a 45-yard field goal as it took a 9-6 lead at halftime.

The Tide, trailing 13-9 early in the fouth quarter, reached a first and goal at the Georgia 5-yard line, but had to settle for another short field goal and 13-12 deficit after Young threw to the end zone twice for incompletions amid a heavy rush.

Alabama caught one of its patented breaks when Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett fumbled it to the Tide at Georgia’s 16-yard line with 11:35 to play in the game. Officials could have ruled that an incomplete pass, it was that close. But four plays later, Alabama took an 18-13 lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Young to tight end Cameron Latu with 10:14 to go. Latu pushed off, but it wasn’t called.

Cue up the red blob. Alabama has won hundreds of games throughout history in such fashion – give Alabama a crease, it takes advantage, gets a call or no-call, and it’s over.

But not this time. Georgia drove 75 yards in four plays for a touchdown and 19-18 lead with 8:09 to go. Bennett hit 3-of-3 passes on the drive for 68 yards with a 40-yard touchdown to Adonai Mitchell. This was Alabama’s defense giving it up at the end. Williams and Metchie do not play defense.

Then Alabama – at the worst possible time – went three and out and punted. And Georgia put the game away Alabama style with a 62-yard touchdown drive in seven plays over 3:37 for a 26-18 lead with 3:33 left, burying the Tide. Six of the plays were runs for 32 yards.

“There was a chance for us to still be in the game,” Saban said. “And they just ran the ball, and we didn’t stop them.”

Georgia stuck it right up the “A” in Alabama, in other words.

Still within a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final minutes, Alabama reached the Georgia 44-yard line. But amid a heavy rush, Young hurriedly threw two incompletions before the dagger — an interception by defensive back Kelee Ringo, who returned it 79 yards for a touchdown with 54 seconds to go for the 33-18 final.

“I just feel really poorly that we didn’t finish the game better than we did in the fourth quarter,” Saban said. “Because we played a heck of a game against a heck of a team for the first three quarters.”

Alabama talking about the first three quarters? Proof it was finished off.

In the end, Alabama’s defensive line could not stop Georgia’s offensive line, and Alabama’s offensive line could not contain Georgia’s front seven. And all that could have very well happened with Williams and Metchie.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

4 Comments

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  1. Without a doubt those were the two best teams all season and it showed on the field. With a healthy Metchie and Williams out there I’m not sure UGA stops that Bama offense, but injuries are part of the game too unfortunately. UGA deserves it. Great team.

  2. There is no doubt that Bama missed some key players. But injuries do happen and Georgia had their share of them throughout the season as well. In the end, Georgia was the better team. I could not be happier for my Georgia Bulldogs! A great bunch of kids played their hearts out and won one for the Bulldog Nation. I can’t believe it took 41 years. I was in New Orleans for the last one and my oldest son and grandson were there last night. Go Dawgs!

  3. Bama fan here happy with the season. It was a rebuilding year. See ya next year. We’ll still have young and we’ll have better wideouts and db depth. Lots of drops including an on the money throw deep to the right sideline before the pick six.

    It just wasn’t our night.

    Congrats, Georgia.

    As an aside, I don’t see Bennett as a pro QB, so will he be back next year? Does he have 1 more year of eligibility?

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