College Football Title Game? Roll Tide
By Bill Roth
If you have the chance to watch the Georgia Bulldogs practice, you’d see an efficient and precise machine in action. And if you watch the team’s game day operation, or its recruiting machine, you’d walk away impressed. They’re really good in just about everything they do.
That’s because head coach Kirby Smart brought much of Alabama’s influence with him when he jumped from ‘Bama’s defensive coordinator in 2016 to become UGA’s head coach.
There are a lot of familiarities between these two coaching staffs as they prepare to meet Monday night in Atlanta in College Football Playoff’s Championship Game. Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt held the same position at Georgia before joining the Tide and Mel Tucker of UGa was at Alabama. It’s as if the schools have swapped key assistants and of course Smart spent nine years in Tuscaloosa and thus knows the personnel on the Tide sideline as well as any opposing coach.
That should give the Dawgs an advantage, no? It might, but it probably won’t help.
This could be a great game on Monday night, but candidly, this is not a good matchup at all for Georgia.
Bulldogs offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is a terrific coach, and he has a background with the spread offense at Purdue, but after spending a few years in the NFL, Jim is a run the football guy. Now, if you had Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, you’d run the ball too, and therein lies the problem for UGA on Monday.
Alabama is healthy on defense, especially up front and at linebacker. It just held a prolific Clemson offense to six measly points, and that was against the kind of mobile quarterback that has given the Tide some issues over the years. Kelly Bryant was hot coming into this game, but Alabama’s healthy defense shut him down.
Monday night, Georgia will trot out freshman quarterback Jake Fromm who is terrific, but he’s not elusive like Baker Mayfield or Bryant or Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State). He’s not going to out-run the Alabama defense, and I’m not sure any team in America can run against a healthy Alabama front. As good as Michel and Chubb are (and I spent several days with the Dawgs last year and called their bowl game), it’s hard to see how the Dawgs will be able to sustain drives in this game.
Conversely, the Georgia defensive front is outstanding too, but Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is the difference here. If you watched the Alabama-Clemson game, you could see how the Tigers and coordinator Brent Venables tried to defend Hurts, but at the end of the night, he was able to make plays to win. The Tide won last week over Clemson 24-6.
Monday’s game should be much closer, but a healthy Tide defense and red-hot Hurts is the difference.