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Kirby Smart disproves Nick Saban’s notion of defenses not able to stop offenses in today’s game

Brett Davis - USA Today Sports

Alabama football has to get better to finish the season, but could Nick Saban’s search for improvement be driven by an outside factor?

Many, including Coach Saban, believed the changes made in college football to benefit offenses would prevent defenses from dominating matchups again. The Crimson Tide shifted its focus to recruiting playmakers at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver; however, its defense has struggled since 2018. People give credit to how elite these fast-ball offenses are, but one coach is holding Saban’s feet to the fire. Kirby Smart, who worked under Saban as an assistant and defensive coordinator from 2007 to 2015, is doing incredible things with Georgia’s defense. Since getting hired to his Alma mater as head coach, Smart’s had the Bulldogs as one of the nation’s best defenses. Georgia is No. 2 for scoring defense (10.8 ppg), No. 4 for total defense (265.6 ypg), No. 6 for run defense (86.4 ypg), and No. 4 for pass efficiency defense (104.2). The Bulldogs have allowed three rushing touchdowns and five passing scores, but it has also recorded seven interceptions. No team has scored 30 or more points on Georgia all season, and Smart’s defense shut down an explosive Tennessee team. Hendon Hooker shredded the Crimson Tide for five touchdowns in a 52-49 victory for the Volunteers, but he was helpless versus the Bulldogs. Tennessee got a late touchdown during garbage time in regulation, but Georgia held it to six points. Smart has debunked Saban’s notion of defenses cannot stop offenses in today’s game. The Bulldogs have pitched two shutouts and have guys playing with confidence everywhere.

RELATED: Former Alabama LB has one message for the Crimson Tide going forward

Georgia’s defense represents what Alabama was in Saban’s early years.

Smart has simple play calls, he recruits the right athletes that fit the culture, players are confident in Will Muschamp and Glenn Schumann as defensive gurus, the Bulldogs have energy on the sideline, and they have fun. Smart lets his guys run around, shoot gaps, make big-time tackles, pressure quarterbacks, create turnovers, and put that soul-gripping fear inside an opponent.

Georgia is on pace to repeat as national champions with its style. Saban has to find a way to get Alabama’s edge back.

The Bulldogs are showing national championships are still won with defense.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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