Hurricane Joaquin is destined for the Carolinas (North and South) and Virginia, but it will leave behind a high rain percentage this weekend at Athens, Ga. About two to three inches of precipitation has been predicted for Saturday’s game between Alabama and Georgia. Wet conditions are a calling card for two concepts, a strong run game and field position.
The leg strength and technique of Georgia’s Collin Barber and Alabama’s JK Scott will be imperative. Barber, a senior, has averaged 40.1 yards per punt through four games.
He has pinned opponents’ inside the 20-yard line on four of 12 attempts. Scott, a sophomore, has averaged 38.8 yards per boot with six of his 17 attempts being downed inside the 20.
Coverage on special teams will serve as one of few X-factors this weekend. The team that is forced to drive the length of the field could have a difficult time creating a tempo on offense.
Place kickers Marshall Morgan and Adam Griffith have to excel, as both team look to lean on the run game. Morgan, a senior, has nailed four of six field goals with two coming from between 20-29 yards. His long on the season is 47 yards, an attempt that came against Southern.
Griffith, a junior, has seen his confidence steadily return with each made attempt. He has connected on his last three field goal tries, including a 40-yard kick against Louisiana-Monroe last week. A strong outing from him this week gives Alabama more stability on special teams.
Expect some drives to stall under horrid field conditions.
Saturday can very well be a game for specialists.
Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.