It is not often that a college team gets two chances against a single opponent in a year, especially in the SEC. If you go back to the 2011 season, LSU defeated Alabama 9-6 in the regular season before the Tide ended up stifling the Tigers 21-0 in the BCS National Championship game.
Could the Bulldogs flip that same script and beat Alabama in the more important game?
Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken has coached in the NFL as the offensive coordinator of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns. Of course in the NFL, division foes face each other at least twice a season. The Bulldogs want to make sure they keep their main identity though.
“You do get that in the NFL with your division teams where you play them twice,” said Monken on Wednesday. “And sometimes you can play them relatively close together like this is…They’re successful for a reason for what they do and so are we. If you’re constantly changing what you do and your identity, I don’t think you’re going to be very good at anything. So obviously we take from the things that we did well and build on that and the things we didn’t do as well.”
Georgia opened up the SEC Championship game with a 10-0 lead, before Alabama scored 24 points in the second quarter. That forced Georgia to mainly abandon its rushing attack, leaving Stetson Bennett to throw two costly interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Monken still has plenty of belief in his starting quarterback, who is 0-2 in his career as a starter against the Crimson Tide.
“I don’t see it as those two games are going to predict the future,” said Monken. “But we just need to understand that the first two halves of each of those games were outstanding, and I’ve said that before. He has everything we need to be successful offensively. And our issues with turnovers aren’t his issue, particularly. That’s everybody in this country. If you turn the ball over you’re not going to win, no matter how you do it.”
Monken also said that he needs to put Bennett in better situations to succeed. In his two starts against Alabama, Bennett has thrown five interceptions.
Defensively, the chatter has been similar. Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning said the team tried to create pressure in the SEC Championship, to no avail. Lanning implied that there is no secret formula to beating Alabama, his guys just need to do what they have done to get them to this point.
“Just play the brand of football we’re able to play,” said Lanning on Wednesday. “Our guys take a tremendous amount of pride in the way we work and the work we’ve put into this season. But it doesn’t take anything exceptional or extraordinary, just do what we know how to do.”
That does not mean that the Bulldogs are underestimating their opponent or expecting to coast to a national championship, just that they can only control themselves right now.
“Ultimately I think one of the biggest things that’s different, especially in our league and playing against a team like Alabama, is in the trenches, up front with the defensive line and offensive line, the speed on the field,” said Lanning. “It’s all relative because every football field is 100 yards, right? But the size and the speed is a tremendous difference.”