Alabama head coach Nick Saban re-established himself and the Crimson Tide as a force in college football against Georgia in 2008. It was a contest that placed Alabama on national radar, and now seven years later, the No.8-ranked Bulldogs are given a second opportunity to alert sports media on why the Crimson Tide remains a pillar in the Southeastern Conference.
Three national championships and three SEC titles remain at Alabama since 2008; however, doubt and shade have crept in on the Crimson Tide’s journey this season.
A loss to Georgia could spell the end of Alabama’s dominance, and with weather conditions being gloomy, execution and ball security are both priorities on Saban’s list at Athens, Ga.
A winning record away from Bryant-Denny Stadium is one thing senior quarterback Jacob Coker has to his credit. He completed 15 of 21 pass attempts for 219 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers against Wisconsin. The Crimson Tide left AT&T Stadium with a 35-17 win.
Alabama’s offensive line blocked for 502 total yards, with 238 coming on the ground. Its running backs recorded four touchdowns on 6.4 yards per carry.
A resurgence of this against Georgia should bode well for this year’s team, despite horrid field conditions at Sanford Stadium.
For Coker, scanning the field and making check downs will be critical. All four of his interceptions have come from him staring down a potential target on pre and post snap reads.
He is not the most effective runner, yet Coker does have 45 rushing yards and a touchdown through four games. Some dirt on his jersey could be a good thing, enroute to avoiding pressure from Georgia’s outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd.
Coach Saban has mentioned the participation of freshman running back Bo Scarbrough this week. He said Alabama “is finding a role” for him, but did not proceed to give much information on how much he would play. Scarbrough could see between six to eight carries early.
Derrick Henry made an early splash into the Heisman conversation, but has cooled off a bit since week one. He will share the stage with fellow SEC tailback Nick Chubb, a frontrunner for the coveted bronze award. A performance totaling at least 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns should re-stamp Henry’s name into the minds of voters.
Defensively, Alabama’s front seven is ready for Chubb and Georgia. The Crimson Tide has allowed an average of 56.2 rushing yards and two touchdowns on two yards per carry.
Senior inside linebacker Reggie Ragland leads the group with 34 total tackles, including 1.5 for loss. Defensive lineman Jarran Reed has 20 tackles, two for loss and a sack.
The Bulldogs’ offensive line enters this game, blocking for 491.2 yards with 257.8 coming on the ground. Chubb has averaged 149.8 rushing yards a game and six touchdowns.
No individual has rushed for 100 yards on Alabama. Chubb senses that he can be the first and in doing so, he would tie Bulldogs’ legend Herschel Walker for 13 straight 100-yard rushing performances. Clogging the middle and containing the edge will be important.
A clean ball is something Saban will address should this game come down to field position and special teams. A slight edge to Alabama, if JK Scott can field the ball cleanly on punts.
Georgia’s Marshall Morgan is a proven kicker. Alabama’s Adam Griffith is slowly getting better, but a solid outing against the Bulldogs would imply that he has emerge from a slump.
Rain equals old-fashion football, which means time of possession, third down efficiency and red zone scoring all will matter. The offense that establishes a consistent rhythm will win.
Final Prediction: Alabama 28, Georgia 21
Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.