Georgia squandered several opportunities in the latest battle between the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide. The Dawgs had the ball with a lead twice in the second half and could not muster any points to extend it. Several receivers and running backs were open that got missed and the Georgia defense allowed Alabama to pick up too many first downs on third down.
Undoubtedly it was a disappointing performance in the second half for Georgia. There were times when young players impressed. The season is not over, in fact, the Dawgs very much so control their own destiny. After the much-needed bye week, there is plenty of room for improvement heading to Lexington on Saturday. For now, let’s look at the stats that shaped the Georgia defeat to Alabama.
Coming out of halftime with a lead and getting the ball first, despite a 52-yard field goal by Alabama with 1 second left in the first half, Georgia had momentum and a chance to keep it going. However, with turnovers and missed open receivers, the Dawgs were unable to score any points in the second half. Georgia moved the ball and even controlled most of the third quarter in terms of time of possession, but no points on the board. Against Alabama, you must play a complete game, you must be able to capitalize on opportunities to extend leads. Georgia did not.
Not only did Georgia turn the ball over in the second half, but also the passing game of the Bulldogs was hampered all night by batted passes. There is no doubt that Stetson Bennett IV is an exciting player and he has poise and is able to create, but the fact remains that he’s 5’11. This is not to say that Bennett IV can’t play quarterback in the SEC at that height, but like Drew Brees and other shorter quarterback that have success, he must be able to find passing lanes. On four occasions he could not and three of those would have been big gainers for Georgia.
Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith averaged 19.29 yards per reception in the game. A combined 17 receptions for 328 yards for Waddle and Smith is way more than can be allowed in order to keep the Crimson Tide within striking distance. These two receivers for Alabama are tremendously talented and both will be playing in the NFL next year, but defensively the big plays have to be limited for these two in particular. The 90-yard touchdown to Jaylen Waddle in the third quarter was the turning point of the game. Until that point it seemed that the UGA defense had managed to be doing just enough to prevent the Tide from rolling, but that explosive play broke the dam.
Georgia threw 10 more passes than they had rush attempts. Also, no ball carrier for Georgia had more than 10 carries. Despite seemingly getting movement of Alabama in the trenches and averaging 4.8 yards per carry, it seemed like the balance wasn’t quite there are times for Georgia. This was by far the least balanced Georgia has been in the 2020 season. I don’t think it’s because Georgia felt unable to run or that Alabama made them one-dimensional. It seemed to be just a result of the chess matched being played between Todd Monken and Nick Saban’s defense. I would imagine that Georgia will look to build on the success they had in the fun game going forward to create more efficiency in the developing passing attack.
Jermaine Burton was targeted 12 times. It cannot be overstated how talented Burton is and how excited the coaching staff is about him and his game. The problem is only four of those targets resulted in catches. Burton had two key drops and Bennett IV overthrew him twice on plays in which he was open deep down field. Georgia faithful should be excited Burton is so involved in the offense. The execution level just has to catch up with the talent and potential.