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The #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and #3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs met this past weekend in the Georgia Dome. At stake was the championship of the SEC and the right to face top ranked Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game. Georgia players made claims in the week leading up to the game that they were the more talented than Alabama and on paper it appeared that way. The Crimson Tide, however, proved they were the better team.
Georgia got the first break of the game when Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones sacked Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron at the Alabama 42 yard line. Jones stripped McCarron on the play and the ball was recovered by Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson. Alabama, however, dodged a bullet when they held Georgia and they missed a 50 yard field goal. On the first play of the 2nd quarter, Georgia lined up to punt, but snapped the ball to tight end Arthur Lynch who completed a 16 yard pass to corner Sanders Commings to keep the drive alive. Two plays later Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hit freshman tight end Jay Rome for a 19 yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Midway through the 2nd quarter, Alabama drove to the Georgia 4 yard line. The Bulldogs stopped two straight Alabama runs then on 3rd down, Commings picked of McCarron in the end zone to end the threat. The Crimson Tide held the Bulldogs to a 3 and out and on the next series got their first score on a 41 yard run by running back Eddie Lacy to tie the game. Three plays later, Alabama grabbed the momentum when defensive back Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix picked off Murray. The Crimson tide drove to the Bulldog 5 yard line, but had to settle for a 22 yard field goal. The Crimson Tide scored 10 points in a span of 1:59 and went into the half with a 10-7 lead.
Georgia started off the 2nd half by taking the lead, going 75 yards in 9 plays and scoring on a 3 yard run by Todd Gurley. Alabama again moved into Georgia territory on their next possession. They lined up for a 49 yard field goal, but it was blocked by Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington and linebacker Alec Ogletree scooped up the ball and raced 55 yards for a touchdown. The play gave the Bulldogs a 21-10 lead. The Crimson Tide, however, did not give up, scoring on their next possession on a 10 yard run by T.J. Yeldon and then converted the 2 point attempt, also on a Yeldon run. The score cut the lead to 21-18 Georgia.
Even though Georgia had the lead, the momentum was clearly with Alabama. The Crimson Tide running game was gashing the Bulldogs defense and they had no answer for it. After a 3 and out by Georgia, Alabama continued to attack with their running game. The Crimson Tide went on a 7 play, 74 yard drive using nothing but the running game. They scored on a 1 yard run by Eddie Lacy to take a 25-21 lead. Georgia responded on their next drive using mostly the passing game. Murray completed a 17 yard pass to receiver Malcolm Mitchel and a 45 yard pass to receiver Tavarres King to put them in the red zone. Todd Gurley finished the drive on a 10 yard run and Georgia reclaimed the lead at 28-25. Alabama came right back, striking on a 45 yard touchdown pass from A.J. McCarron to receiver Amari Cooper to go back up 32-28. The Crimson Tide forced a 3 and out on the next possession by Georgia, but were unable to run out the clock. After the Alabama punt the Bulldogs had one last shot to win the game. They had the ball at their own 15 with 1:08 left and no time outs. Murray went to work, completing 3 out of his next 5 passes and the Bulldogs moved to the Alabama 34 yard line. With time running out, Murray completed a 26 yard pass to Lynch to give them the ball at the 8 yard line with 0:15 left. Instead of clocking the ball, the Bulldogs tried to run another play once the chains were set and the ball was tipped, then caught inbounds by Chris Conley at the Alabama 5 yard line and they were unable to get off another play. The Crimson Tide held on to win 32-28.
The loss for Georgia could be hung squarely on the defense. This was supposed to be one of the top defenses in the country, but they couldn’t stop the run at all. Alabama had 350 rushing yards and averaged 6.9 yards per rush. At the end, they gave themselves a chance to win the game, but the failure to clock the ball with 0:15 left was a fatal flaw in my mind. If they had clocked the ball, they would have had 2, maybe 3 shots at the end zone to win the game. Since they did not clock the ball, they rushed the play and it ended up costing them the game and a chance at a national title.
With the win, Alabama gets a shot at winning two straight national championships and three out of the last four. If they are able to win it, there will be no argument that couch Nick Saban has created a dynasty in Tuscaloosa.
Here are my thoughts on the draft eligible players that played in the game. I will start with the winning team.
AJ McCarron-QB-Jr: The Crimson Tide running game was working so well, that McCarron didn’t have to do much. He did come through with the big 45 yard touchdown pass to put them ahead for good though. Early in the season there was talk about him being a Heisman candidate but that talk has subsided. He is a mobile quarterback that still needs some seasoning. He is no longer a game manager, but he’s also not a guy that can sling it 50 times either. He does better when the running game is working and he can use play action fakes. McCarron sometimes holds the ball too long and gives up the sack. He completed 13 of 21 for 162 yards and 1 touchdown and 1 interception. McCarron also had a great 22 yard scramble just before the half to setup a field goal. What McCarron does do is win games and that’s exactly what his job is.
Eddie Lacy-RB-Jr: Eddie Lacy is a big powerful back with surprising quickness. He is also surprisingly light on his feet and rarely takes a direct hit even though he is very physical. The Crimson Tide hitched their wagon to him in this game and he delivered with 181 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, the longest of which was 41 yards. He also caught 2 passes for 7 yards.
Michael Williams-TE-Sr: Michael Williams is a massive tight end whose blocking is a big key to the Crimson Tide rushing attack. He is almost like having a third tackle on the field. Williams also has soft hands and can be a weapon in the passing attack. Against Georgia he had 2 catches for 5 yards.
Chance Warmack-G-Sr: Chance Warmack is one of the top guards in the country and could be the first guard selected in the 2013 NFL draft. He is a mobile player that does a great job clearing the way for the Alabama running backs. Warmack also does a good job protecting the A gap, giving McCarron time to make his throws.
Barrett Jones-C-Sr: Barrett Jones has played every position on the offensive line. After being an All-American guard and left tackle, he moved to center his senior year to help his team. I don’t think he has been as effective since the move. I think guard may be his best position. He had his hands full early with massive nose tackle John Jenkins, but as the game wore on; he was able to contain Jenkins. Jones threw a key block on the T.J. Yeldon touchdown run.
D.J. Fluker-T-Sr: D.J. Fluker is a massive right tackle that is the emotional leader of the team. He does a good job firing up his team when the time is right. When Alabama needs a key run, they usually go behind Fluker. He is a very capable run blocker and does a decent job in pass protection.
Damion Square-DE-Sr: Damion Square is a defensive lineman with experience playing the 5 technique. NFL teams that play the 3-4 should be interested in him. He does a good job tying up blockers and allowing the linebackers to flow to the ball. Square isn’t known for his pass rush ability, but he is able to push the pocket from the inside. When Jesse Williams was hurt in the 2nd half, he slid over and played on the nose until Williams was able to return.
Jesse Williams-NT-Sr: Jesse Williams is a massive nose tackle with good movement skills. The 320 pounder is nimble enough to line up in the backfield and be a lead blocker in short yardage situations. He is very strong at the point of attack and is very difficult to block one on one. Williams injured his knee in the 3rd quarter, but returned wearing a knee brace and played well. Against the Bulldogs he had 3 tackles and had a 3rd down stop that forced a punt.
C.J. Mosley-OLB-Jr: C.J. Mosley is a fast, athletic outside linebacker. He is very good at pass coverage and has two interceptions for the year. Mosley is an active player that reads his keys quickly then reacts. Against Georgia he had 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and a QB hurry. He also got his hands on the last pass that Georgia threw, causing the ball to be caught inbounds and running out the clock.
Aaron Murray-QB-Jr: Aaron Murray is in his third season as the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs. He is a tough quarterback that delivers the ball and takes hits. He has a nice arm and does a good job when he can stay in the pocket and set his feet. Murray loses some of his effectiveness when he has to scramble. He is eligible to declare for the 2013 NFL draft, but I think he would be best served to get one more year of experience under his belt. The knock on him is that he doesn’t win big games and the loss to Alabama won’t do anything to help that impression. I think Murray is a great kid, but I think he needs one more year of experience before going to the next level. Against Alabama he completed 18 of 33 for 265 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
Tavarres King-WR-Sr: Tavarres King leads the Bulldogs with 846 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. He is the big play receiver for Georgia, but he lacks consistency. He has big games followed by two or three games where he barely shows up. He has nice skills and made a very nice back shoulder catch to put the Bulldogs in scoring position. Against the Crimson Tide he had 5 catches for 142 yards. He had a three catches of over 30 yards (33,31 and 45 yards).
Arthur Lynch-TE-Jr: Arthur Lynch is a big 6’5” 272 pound tight end. He has become more a part of the offense in the last 4 games, catching at least 3 passes in each game. Against Alabama he had 3 catches for 50 yards and completed a 16 yard pass to Sanders Commings on a fake punt which got them a 1st down. Lynch did drop 2 passes though.
Dallas Lee-G-Jr: Dallas Lee is a two year starter at left guard. He is a mobile player that can pull and trap defenders. Lee also shows an ability to get to the second level to block linebackers and can get downfield on sweeps and screens.
Cornelius Washington-DE-Sr: Cornelius Washington is 6’4” 268 pound player that can play both defensive end and linebacker. He has good length and has a knack for making big plays. Against Alabama he had 1 tackle and 2 QB hurries. Washington also batted a pass and blocked a field goal that was returned for a touchdown.
John Jenkins-NT-Sr: John Jenkins is a massive nose tackle that ties up the middle of the defense and demands double teams. He gets good inside push and collapses the pocket well. Against the Crimson Tide he had 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and a QB hurry.
Jarvis Jones-OLB-Jr: Jarvis Jones is a playmaker that the offense has to account for on every play. The Bulldogs move him around to try to create mismatches. He can impact almost every aspect of the defense and makes plays all over the field. Jones is #3 in the country in sacks and leads the nation in tackles for loss. The Crimson Tide exposed a weakness by running the ball directly at him. Although his stats look impressive, Jones did not do a good job stopping the Alabama rushing attack and at times got sucked inside, allowing the back to get outside of him. Prior to the game, many draft experts had him as the #1 overall pick. Only time will tell if this game changed their opinion. Against Alabama he had 6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
Alec Ogletree-ILB-Jr. Alec Ogletree is a converted safety that is extremely fast. He is very athletic and he flies to the ball. Although he plays on the inside, I can see 3-4 teams being interested in him to play on the outside because of his speed. He leads the Bulldogs in tackles. Against the Crimson Tide he had 11 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Ogletree had a great stop in the red zone to prevent a touchdown and also returned a blocked field goal 55 yards for a touchdown.
Mike Gilliard-ILB-Sr: Mike Gilliard is a tough run stuffing inside linebacker. He is part of a four player rotation at inside linebacker and has 52 tackles for the year. Against Alabama he had 6 tackles and one of his stops was in the red zone, preventing a touchdown.
Christian Robinson-ILB-Sr: Christian Robinson is another of the Bulldogs experienced linebackers. He is 4th on the team with 6 ½ tackles for loss. Against the Crimson Tide he had limited snaps, but he did recover a fumble.
Sanders Commings-CB-Jr: Sanders Commings is a physical corner that plays good tight coverage. He jumps the route well and makes plays on the ball. He is tied for 1st on the team with 3 interceptions for the year. Against Alabama he had 3 tackles and 1 pass breakup. Commings also had an interception in the end zone to stop an Alabama scoring threat and caught a 16 yard pass on a fake punt for a first down.
Bacarri Rambo-S-Sr: Bacarri Rambo is one of top safeties available for the 2013 draft. He is a versatile player that can play centerfield to stop the pass or become the 8th defender in the box. He covers a lot of ground and brings the wood once he gets there. He had 8 interceptions in 2011 and is tied for the team lead this year with 3 interceptions. He was suspended for the first 4 games this year, so that may affect how many teams are interested in drafting him this year. Against the Crimson Tide he had 8 tackles and broke up 1 pass.
Sean Williams-S-Jr: Sean Williams is an emotional leader for the team. His challenge to the defense earlier in the year caused them to play with more intensity. Williams is a big hitter that can play either safety position. Against Alabama he had 9 tackles.
by Dwayne Wilton