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Alabama has gone through the season playing only one defense that would come anywhere close to how Georgia is playing right now, that would be Texas A&M. But the Aggies obviously don’t have the type of defensive line that the Tide is about to face on Saturday.
So, as the Dawgs prepare for Alabama’s offense, Nick Saban should be worried about how to find time for Bryce Young in the pocket. This game presents the opportunity for Kirby Smart to release the hounds and pressure Bryce Young into mistakes that could cost the Tide. When Nick Saban was asked about the Dawgs’ defense, it was clear he knows how much trouble they can cause.
“I think the fact that they’ve got like nine different players that have 4-1/2 tackles for a loss. One guy has 8 1/2. They’ve got five different players that have multiple sacks. There’s nine different players that have at least two sacks. So, there’s a lot of issues. They’re well-coached. They’ve got a good scheme. The players do a good job of executing it. They’ve got good linebackers. They’ve got good front people. They’re aggressive in the secondary. This is not a one-man wrecking crew. This is a really, really good group of players who play well together. There are multiple players that have ability to make plays.”
But we haven’t even mentioned nose guard Jordan Davis, who is looked at as the best defensive lineman in the country. You won’t find many open gaps when Davis is on the field, so Alabama will have to look for open space on the edges. But to even get to that point, the Tide will most likely have to double-team the massive lineman, who has wreaked havoc on every opponent he’s faced this season. Nick Saban can appreciate how good of a player Davis is. He even called him “one of most dominant players” in the country.
“I mean, I think the guy is one of the most dominant players in college football. Any defensive lineman, I guess you can look at a lot of things, but the No. 1 thing is how hard are they to block? And he’s really hard to block,” Saban said. “He’s got great size. He’s very powerful, but he’s got really good initial quickness, short-area quickness, and can push the pocket and pass rush. He’s about as good a player as I’ve seen for a long time as an inside player on any college football team.”
We all witnessed Alabama struggle to find any kind of balance on offense against Auburn, though they ended up winning in four overtimes. The Tide struggled to score points. Their first touchdown came with under a minute to play. Even though Bryce Young threw for 317 yards, he did so on 51 attempts. The Tide were also held to 71 total rushing yards, which won’t win them a game like this against a tough Georgia defense. But the biggest thing might be the pass rush and how the Dawgs can find different ways to make a quarterback miserable. For Alabama to win this game, they’ll need to find a balance on offense and keep their quarterback upright, and Saban made that very clear.
“To me, they’ve got some really good rushers up front. They do a great job of pressuring the quarterback. They’ve got really good scheme in terms of how they pressure the quarterback. They mix up the coverages in the back end quite a bit. They’ve been very effective with the way they play pass defense all year long. So, it’s going to be very challenging for us. It’s not just about throwing the ball. It’s about protecting, whether it’s man-to-man, zone, reading it, throwing the ball to the right guys. There’s a lot of things that go with that.”
Either way, Alabama is in for one hell of a fight on Saturday afternoon, as they look to sustain some type of offensive consistency. But with the way Georgia has been playing this season, I’ll have to see it to believe it from the Crimson Tide. They haven’t seen a defense like this one in a very long time, a fact which should frighten the Alabama coaches behind the scenes.