Bulldogs To Watch: Georgia vs. Alabama

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Bulldogs To Watch: Georgia vs. Alabama

Jake Fromm (11)

 
 
JAKE FROMM (QB, #11)
 
After leading the Bulldogs to the SEC title and national championship game as a mere freshman in 2017, Fromm has been one of the best pinpoint passers in the country in his sophomore year this fall. His sterling leadership at quarterback has enabled the Georgia offense to become the second-highest scoring unit in the SEC, behind Alabama. Now, after guiding the Bulldogs to a second consecutive SEC East title, Fromm faces his biggest challenge of the season as he seeks to dissect the Crimson Tide’s rugged defense Saturday in the conference championship game.
 
 
MECOLE HARDMAN (WR, #4)
 
One of Georgia’s fastest and most dangerous offensive weapons, this 5-11, 183-pound junior is most capable of getting open behind the talented Alabama secondary … as Hardman did in the Jan. 8 national championship game when he pulled in an 80-yard touchdown pass from Fromm. Getting the ball to the Bulldogs’ elusive No. 4 in the open field Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is certainly a key for the success of the Georgia offense. And it goes without saying Hardman is also a huge weapon for the Bulldogs on punt and kickoff returns.
 
 
D’ANDRE SWIFT (TB, #7)
 
After shaking off early-season injuries this guy is surely one of the most explosive tailbacks in America, one who can fake defenders out of their shoes and also is powerful enough to run through would-be tacklers. The 5-9, 215-pound Swift can go the distance on any given play but, most certainly, Georgia’s offensive line faces quite a task on Saturday in going against ‘Bama’s big and fast defensive front. Those Bulldogs in the O-line simply must provide Swift and Elijah Holyfield with enough of a crease to get to the second level of the Tide’s defense.
 
 

Sam Pittman

 
 
SAM PITTMAN (Offensive Line Coach)
 
Pittman, who joined new head coach Kirby Smart on the UGA staff prior to the 2016 season, has done truly a remarkable job in his three years with the Bulldogs in shaping the offensive line into one of the nation’s best. Despite Georgia’s O-line being riddled by injuries throughout the season, Pittman’s linemen have paved the way for the Bulldogs leading the SEC in rushing and being the conference’s 2nd-best scoring team to Alabama. Also an excellent recruiter, Pittman’s unit must respond with its best performance of the season in Saturday’s SEC championship game, which would enable the Bulldogs to run the football and keep it away from the Tide’s explosive offense.
 
 
DEANDRE BAKER (CB, #18)
 
One of the country’s leading cornerbacks who is one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation’s top defensive back, Baker has allowed very few receivers to make a catch on his side of the field. The 5-11, 185-pound senior leads the Bulldogs in pass break-ups and interceptions and will likely be shadowing Alabama’s ace receiver, Jerry Jeudy, much of the SEC Championship game Saturday in Atlanta.
 
 
RODRIGO BLANKENSHIP (PK, #98)
 
Blankenship has certainly turned in an All-America like performance in this, his junior season at Georgia. “Hot Rod” entered the Georgia Tech regular season finale this past weekend as the second-leading scorer in the SEC with an average of 9.6 points per game and had connected on 18-of-20 field goal attempts. He had also booted 69 of his 80 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. A semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s best place-kicker, Blankenship was inexplicably not named as one of the three finalists for the award. It was Rodrigo’s 51-yard field goal in last season’s national championship game that gave the Bulldogs a 23-20 lead in overtime over Alabama before the Tide responded with a game-winning touchdown pass. If Saturday’s SEC title game comes down to a game-winning kick, the Bulldog Nation knows it has the guy to make that kick.
 
 
 
 

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.