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Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. Plans To Keep Georgia QB In The Pocket Or On The Ground

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Second verse … same as the first.

No. 1 Alabama (13-1) likely will not change much of its game plan when it plays No. 3 Georgia (13-1) in the College Football Playoff national championship game Monday (8 p.m. Eastern, ESPN) in Indianapolis. Particularly not on defense.

The Tide sacked Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett three times, hurried him five times and forced two interceptions in a 41-24 victory in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4.

Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr., a sophomore from Hampton, Georgia, who leads the nation with 17.5 sacks, had one of the sacks and one of the hurries as the Tide erased a 10-0 deficit in the second quarter to win running away. Bennett did complete 29 of 48 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns while rushing seven times for 11 yards.

“His ability to move out of the pocket, I think that’s one of his biggest and strongest abilities,” Anderson said Monday of Bennett, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 34-11 win over Michigan in a CFP semifinal on Friday.

“He can extend plays with his arms as well. We just have to contain him,” Anderson said.

Michigan did not do that. Bennett rushed three times for 32 yards and was not sacked or hurried once.

“We just have to make sure he’s not running all over the field,” Anderson said. “The biggest part of his game is his legs. He really takes over on the offensive side.”

Containing and harassing Bennett helped lead to a 42-yard interception return by safety Jordan Battle that gave Alabama a 38-17 lead in the fourth quarter and put the game away for the Tide’s seventh straight win over the Bulldogs.

Yet, Georgia is a 3-point favorite by FanDuel. Perhaps Vegas is thinking it is hard to beat a team twice in the same season?

“We don’t really listen to all that stuff,” Anderson said. “We can’t pay any attention to that stuff. We know the challenge ahead of us. Georgia has a very good football team, very good players, very good coaches.”

And no wins over Alabama since 2007.

“We just have to be prepared for anything,” Anderson said. “We talk all the time. We have one more game to play, to put everything together, get all the pieces lined up right. That’s what we’ve been doing.”

Defending national champion Alabama beat No. 4 Cincinnati 27-6 on Friday in the other CFP semifinal with Anderson getting two of his team’s six sacks.

“It’s such a blessing for it to be my second year, and we’re already going back to another natty,” Anderson said. “That’s what you dream of when you’re a little kid. I’m so blessed and happy. All the pieces are starting to fall together. Everybody is starting to play to the standard, play to the Alabama standard.”

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.

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