Redemption and immortality. It is surreal that the 41-year drought is finally over. Georgia is the undisputed national champion. The game was like an emotional rollercoaster for me, anger, elation, frustration, and joy. There were a few times I thought the Tide were going to deal the death blow to the Dawgs, but Georgia’s defense rose to the occasion. The penalties nearly caused Georgia to beat themselves, though I felt that some of the calls were outrageous. In the end, I am proud of this group of guys.
There were a few events that could have been the catalysts that shifted the momentum in Georgia’s favor. The 52-yard reception by George Pickens, the sack by Channing Tindall, the field goal blocked by Jalen Carter, the 67-yard rush by James Cook, and others. There were so many big plays at key moments that any one of these could be candidates. Everything considered, Georgia as a team played elite. It is difficult to single out a few players who played the best because they all executed well. There were a few unnecessary penalties, which could have cost the Dawgs a lot more, but in the end, the Dawgs triumphed.
The Dawgs stopped the explosive pass plays downfield. In the SEC Championship, Alabama averaged 16.2 yards per reception and accumulated 421 passing yards. The Dawgs were able to reduce this average to 10.5 yards per reception and 369 passing yards. Also, there were 26 Alabama receptions in the SEC Championship and 35 in the National Championship. This highlights how explosive the passing plays were in the SEC Championship. The Dawgs closed those gaps in their defensive backfield. It was disappointing to see Jameson Williams injure his knee and miss the rest of the game. Williams was Alabama’s main weapon in the SEC Championship, losing him undoubtedly affected their offense in a negative way. With their second-best receiver John Metchie III also unable to play, Young was without his top two targets. The other receivers on the field were talented but less experienced.
In the SEC Championship, Bryce Young was able to scramble for yards at the most inopportune times. The Dawgs were unable to sack him, and he had too much space in the backfield. Young had a total of 40 rushing yards, mainly on 3rd down situations. Fast forward to the National Championship, the Dawgs were able to contain Bryce, sack him 4 times, and his total rushing yards were -43. I was ecstatic when in the second quarter when Channing Tindall was able to sack Bryce Young. It was the first sack of the game. The Dawgs made an extra effort to not allow Young to get outside of the pocket. The Georgia defense brought unrelenting pressure, but they were very careful not to overshoot Young, which would have allowed him to scramble in open space.
Bryce Young threw 2 interceptions, one of which was a beautiful pick six by Kelee Ringo. Stetson Bennett was the one who threw 2 interceptions in the SEC Championship and a lot of pundits and armchair analysts gave him a hard time. Stetson did fumble the ball in the third quarter, but I seriously disagreed with that call. Other than that one hiccup and the jittery start, Stetson dominated. Young played a great game, but now he was the one under intense pressure. Chris Smith and Kelee Ringo took advantage of a couple throws by Young by intercepting them. Lewis Cine played his best game of the season. Derion Kendrick, William Poole III, the list goes on. Georgia’s defensive backs all played at the top of their game.
Georgia got their run game going. Zamir White was the first to get a touchdown. This was on the same drive as the 67-yard run from James Cook. Georgia ran the ball 30 times and attempted 26 passes. Georgia had a balanced offense. Much of Georgia’s success this season came from having an elite combination of passing and rushing. By contrast, Alabama ran the ball 28 times while attempting 57 passes. The Tide were very much a one-dimensional offense. Though Georgia was able to stop their running game, the Tide became exhausted in the 4th quarter, which allowed Zamir White to take the carries and wind down the clock. It is fitting for the history of the Georgia Bulldogs that the run game ended this game for a National Championship berth.