This is Cocktail Thursday, in which we fret as only Bulldog fans can over our next opponent while enjoying a drink to steady our nerves and fortify our resolve.
This week, there’s plenty to worry about. Georgia takes on an Alabama team that is averaging 51.0 points per game. I know, I know. The Tide haven’t played a defense like ours. Everybody knows that defense wins championships. In fact, our good friend Bill Connolly pointed out earlier this week that the top defense and top offense in the nation have faced off 6 times in the last 60 years. And the team with the top defense won 5 of the 6 meetings. Which is great! Until you see who the one outlier was...
Alabama-Georgia on Saturday will pit SP+'s No. 1 O vs. its No. 1 D.— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) October 12, 2020
We don't know where they'll rank at the END of the year yet, but the teams with the top year-end O and D have faced 23 times since 1883. The top defenses are 12-9-2 overall, 5-1 in the last 60 years. pic.twitter.com/eBLpDT2gMq
Here’s the thing. If Georgia gives up 41 points we’re going to lose this football game. I’m as sure of this as I am that orange looks terrible on everyone. The Bulldog defense has got to prevent big plays over the top, and cannot allow the Tide to spring Najee Harris in the running game. He’s the best tailback we’ll see all season and it ain’t particularly close.
All that being said, I decided to go back and watch the Ole Miss/Alabama game in search of something to give me hope. And I may have found it.
The Alabama defense doesn’t look as fast this season as they have in years past. But more than that, their tackling against the Rebs was abysmal. The missed tackles and sacks dodged by Matt Corral directly contributed to the Land Sharks scoring six touchdowns and two field goals on twelve offensive possessions. It was a striking departure from the Tide defenses of past years which were never out of place, always displayed phenomenal gap discipline, and simply punished opposing ball carriers.
The thing that gives me that faint glimmer of hope is that three weeks into the season you begin to see habits become ingrained. It’s awfully hard to go from a bad tackling team to a good tackling team a month into the season. So while I’m sure the Bama defensive staff emphasized it this week, they are who they are at this point.
If Georgia can get a couple of scores early and force that Alabama defense to adjust, the fundamentals are unlikely to improve in the process. If we can make things go pear-shaped early, I’m not sure this Bama team is going to be able to trade scores the way they did last week.
So this week let’s go with a great fall cocktail for a trip to Tuscaloosa: the Pear Bryant. It’s a recipe I’ve made before, but I’ve tweaked it over the years like Nick Saban’s defensive philosophy. You know, to keep up with the times.
Add 2 ounces bourbon of your choice (the Bear was after all a fan of the brown liquor), 1 and 1/2 ounces each of pear liqueur and simple syrup, and a dash of lime juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake thoroughly to combine and strain into a glass. You could garnish with a slice of pear if so inclined. You can also, if you’re really looking for bonus points, make pear simple syrup by simmering half a diced sweet pear in your syrup with a dash of cinnamon then straining it out after it cools. But that’s up to you. Enjoy!
This will double as the Open Thread for Thursday night college football featuring Arkansas State versus Georgia State. It’s no Pear Bryant, but should hold you over. Until later....