Videos by OutKick
We are on a collision course for Monday night in Indianapolis, with Georgia looking to knock off Alabama and take home a National Championship. We saw this matchup just over a month ago in Atlanta, but now the stakes are even higher and the Bulldogs’ offense is looking to play four quarters of consistent football.
No. 1 Alabama (13-1) plays No. 3 Georgia (13-1) on Monday night at 8 pm eastern on ESPN. Georgia is a 3-point favorite on FanDuel.
Georgia’s offensive coordinator Todd Monken called a great game against Michigan this past Friday, putting the Wolverines in uncomfortable situations in the secondary, thanks to quarterback Stetson Bennett. But Monken understands that we can’t define Stetson Bennett only from the past two games.
“But we just need to understand that the first two halves of each of those games was outstanding, and I’ve said that before. He has everything we need to be successful offensively. And our issues with turnovers aren’t his issue, particularly. That’s everybody in this country — if you turn the ball over you’re not going to win, no matter how you do it.”
Even with the turnovers, Monken still puts most of the blame on himself. He knows he must put Bennett in better position to be successful.
“The first turnover a year ago was a batted ball that was out of his control. The second interception was a tipped pass on an end cut that went directly to them. The third one was a poor decision. So the bottom line is I can do better as a coordinator to put him in better position to be successful. He understands that. Our team understands that. So I expect him to play well just like I did last week.”
Folks might look at the regular season and wonder why Georgia didn’t pose more of a downfield threat, but with their dominating rushing attack, it’s reasonable to understand why they didn’t test teams more down the field. They also didn’t have to get pass happy for most of the regular season because their defense was so good and kept opponents off the scoreboard. According to Monken, they just didn’t need the quarterback to make plays in the second half, which can be a good and bad thing.
“Our season, we’ve had a tremendous season, and for a number of those games we put ourselves in position to where we didn’t need the quarterback to make plays in the second half of games. So people could look at that and say, ‘Well, why didn’t you take the opportunity to continue to get more reps or get other quarterbacks opportunities?’
“My mind was to win that one game in particular and get off the field without injuries,” Monken added. “And so that’s probably the hardest part when you try to look at throwing the ball down the field in terms of the opportunity. Our defense played so well. And so I think that’s probably a little unfair that we didn’t trust him to throw it down the field. It was just a matter of opportunities, I think, is more than anything because the way the games went.”
Still, the biggest test on Monday for Todd Monken and this Georgia offense might not be the play calling or scheming. It most likely will be stopping Will Anderson Jr. from causing chaos. Alabama moves him around so much and he can attack from so many areas of the line of scrimmage that opposing teams must be cautious about staying in the pocket, especially if they are trying to open up the offense downfield.
The way Todd Monken calls plays against Alabama will depend on where Anderson is lined up, even if that means Stetson Bennett has to check out of plays. The one thing Georgia cannot do is let Anderson control the game or put Bennett on his back numerous times. Maybe the Dawgs try to run to the opposite side or force Anderson to the perimeter on passing plays. Either way, Monken knows he has his hands full on Monday night.
“Well, you certainly want to know where he is. It’s not just from pass-rush standpoint. He does a really good job, if you get into the zone read game, where he tries to hit you at the junction point and try to disrupt from the open side. I think he has a tremendous skill set. They do a good job moving him around and he plays with relentless effort.
“And like any team, they’re no different,” Monken said about Alabama lining him up. “Just like with him, just like last week, you gotta be careful about getting yourself in a drop-back passing game at any time and putting yourself at risk.”
The one way Georgia can try to catch Alabama’s defense napping is with the play-action pass, which Bennett is very good at. But to do that, the Bulldogs must establish some kind of rushing attack. If Georgia is to win on Monday, they’ll need more than 18 rushing attempts to do it.
The chess match between Alabama DC Pete Goulding and Georgia OC Todd Monken will be one to watch. But for Todd’s sake, let’s hope he allows Stetson Bennett to test the defense down the field. If he doesn’t, this could look like the SEC Championship all over again.