Clobbered, dominated and manhandled are words to describe what Georgia has done to opponents so far this season. On Saturday, in their biggest game of the season, Georgia was on the receiving end of all those terms.
Georgia’s mighty defense looked rather pedestrian against Alabama and quarterback Bryce Young, who threw for 421 yards. That set an SEC Championship record for passing yards in a game.
The Bulldogs knew Alabama’s receivers were special coming into the matchup but they proved to be far too much of a mismatch for Georgia’s secondary on Saturday.
“I think the quarterback had a lot to do with that,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart on Alabama’s offensive success. “Obviously they have two exceptional skill players outside and a really talented tight end… We didn’t get home or finish on the quarterback and he was elite at getting the ball to the playmakers.”
Jameson Williams and John Metchie are the two exceptional skill players Smart is referring to. Williams got the ball rolling for the Crimson Tide, who trailed 10-0 early in the second quarter. On a third down, Young dropped back and found Williams wide open in the middle of the field on a busted coverage.
From there, Williams turned on the jets, burning Georgia’s defense on a 67-yard touchdown. Alabama then scored 17 unanswered points to take its first lead of the game. And then the Tide rolled. Georgia allowed 24 points in the second quarter, which is more than they had allowed in a full game all season. Alabama also scored on five straight possessions.
The Bulldogs allowed 536 total yards, a season-high as well. Ironically, once the defense found a rhythm in the second half, Georgia’s offense seemed to hit a wall. Stetson Bennett threw two costly second-half interceptions, one completely forced for a pick-six by Alabama safety Jordan Battle.
“We move the ball and just mental lapses,” said Bennett. “When you do that, they make you pay. Several third downs, the two interceptions — you just can’t have that versus a team of this caliber. We had it, and they made us pay for it.”
Fortunately for Georgia, hope for a National Championship is still alive. Both Smart and Alabama head coach Nick Saban said they felt like Georgia deserved to be one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff.
Now, the decision is left in the hands of the College Football Playoff committee. They will ultimately decide Georgia’s fate at noon eastern on Sunday. Should the Bulldogs make the playoff, they will either play in the Orange Bowl in Miami or the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Despite the tough loss, Smart tried to have a positive outlook postgame on the loss.
“It didn’t do any damage,” said Smart. “What it did is reinvigorated our energy. It recenters you, right? Their greatest thing is when they lost their game against Texas A&M, they garnered some focus and some attention. To me, that’s an opportunity for a wake-up call, if anything.”
Certainly, it is a wake-up call but also a flat performance in all phases: offense, defense and coaching. The questions will continue to mount regarding Kirby Smart’s record against Nick Saban, Georgia’s quarterback situation and the schedule that the Bulldogs have played so far.
Now, Georgia will have to prove Smart’s statement by fixing the glaring mistakes that the Crimson Tide exposed.
For the full press conference featuring Kirby Smart, Stetson Bennett and Nakobe Dean: