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Season 5 Volume 4: Alabama

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Tennessee v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Intro

Well, I am hoping this entire article isn’t in vain and we actually play a game Saturday. First of all and football aside, I wish Coach Saban a speedy recovery and I am really glad he has yet to experience any symptoms. Unless by some act of God, he finds a way to pump out three negative tests in three days he will not be on the sideline or allowed to communicate with his coaches. It’s a big deal. Not only does Saban strictly control the emotions and demeanor of his team throughout a Saturday gameday but he is the defensive overlord. He has completely loosened his reign on the offense as that will be in Steve Sarkisian’s full control. But Alabama’s defense has struggled this year and I guarantee Saban is making huge adjustments (mainly at halftime) to make them better. All that said, normally I would be super concerned about how this effects the game and what the perception will be if we win vs if we lose. This is not a Georgia problem, it changes absolutely nothing for us. I don’t give a damn about perceptions or if this counts in the Saban vs Assistants record. Just Win.

This is the year that our talent finally stacks up if not exceeds Alabama. Time to find a way to go prove it.

Players to Watch

DJ Daniel- to be honest, Daniel hasn’t been great thus far. He has looked a tad slow and hasn’t played the ball well. He will again be tested this weekend as Alabama has another trio of 1st round receivers. Classic.

Nakobe Dean- Alabama’s offense hinges on success in the power run game with Najee Harris. Dean has the speed to meet Harris at the edge, but I will be watching to see if Dean can take a physical pounding against a really big offensive line and running back room. This is where the rotation of our three inside backers and 3rd down blitz packages, giving Dean a breather from time to time, really plays a big role

Eric Stokes- either way, he will likely be guarding Devonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle in the slot. Huge test for any corner but Stokes has the speed to play with both. He needs to trust his excellent technique and play the ball because his speed always allows him opportunities for a turnover

George Pickens- I expect Pickens to be neutralized by Patrick Surtain Jr. If he can contribute in any significant way, it would be huge win. I am thinking of Pickens more as a decoy in this game. If he has >80 yards receiving, Dawgs win. However, it’s much more likely that using him outside and taking Surtain off other receivers allows Jackson and Burton to have a bigger impact

Kenny Mcintosh and Kendall Milton- these are currently our most dynamic playmakers at RB. Zamir White really wears defenses down but McIntosh and Milton can run through tackles for 50 yards on any play. They need more touches and more opportunities to break a play open in space for chunk plays

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Position Matchups

Because Georgia and Alabama play roughly similar styles, I think this one comes down to positional matchups. Here is how we stack up.

Bama QB(s) vs UGA QB(s): Bama

Bama RBs vs UGA LBs: Bama. So close but Najee Harris is a Heisman candidate

Bama WRs vs UGA Secondary: Bama

Bama OL vs UGA DL: UGA. This one is close but Georgia’s defensive line wins due to depth

UGA RBs vs Bama LBs: UGA RBs win here again due to depth. Dylan Moses is really good but the depth and versatility of Georgia’s backs give them the advantage

UGA WRs vs Bama Secondary: Bama

UGA OL vs Bama DL: UGA. This isn’t Bama’s typical dominate defensive line. They are younger and leaner. Georgia is playing well as a unit on the OL and I think they have an edge here

Game Preview

· Georgia’s offensive style is consistent, wear you down offense so that they become a better offensive team in the fourth quarter than they were in the first.

· Georgia’s defensive style is suffocating run defense and bend don’t break pass defense with a ton of pressure mixed in.

· Bama’s offensive style is a bit of a mix between big explosive shot plays and physical downhill running.

· Bama’s defensive style (at least this year) has been hold on for dear life against mediocre teams

So how do these conflicting styles play out Saturday?

Offensively: This will easily be Georgia’s biggest defensive test to date and the rest of the season. I know Bama looked like crap on defense against Ole Miss but Georgia plays a completely different style. There are certainly weaknesses to attack but Georgia will look to rely on establishing any sort of run game so they stand a chance wearing Alabama down in the second half rather than immediately trying to expose every possible matchup weakness. This will lead to a slower offensive pace and less points. We can argue about whether or not that is the right approach but it’s reality.

Defensively: I think the biggest thing to watch is Mac Jones vs Georgia defensive chaos. We’ve heard Kirby talk about havoc rate for years but this is really the first season where pressure is paying huge, game changing dividends. Mac Jones has not yet been exposed to this kind of unrelenting pressure. When pressed Alabama will always try to physically run the ball but that should be tough sledding on Georgia’s defense. If Georgia can disrupt Jones’ comfort level and avoid more than two deep shots of 30 or more yards, they will win.

I am so conflicted here. The loss of Saban on the sideline and on the headset is a massive one. But I am worried Alabama has too many playmakers outside. Even if we play incredible defense, they have guys with ability to make one guy miss and go 85 yards.

I have read it’s been a very physical week of practice with several defensive players even getting knicked up (they should be good to go). Georgia is expecting a four quarter fight and I think that style of practice along with Saban’s absence gives Georgia the slightest edge. Dawgs 34 Bama 30

Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week

Overall: 126-115-3

2020: 7-8

Last Week: 2-3

1. Liberty -3 vs Syracuse

2. Tennessee -6 vs Kentucky

3. Army -7.5 vs UTSA

4. Clemson -15.5 1H vs Georgia Tech

5. Boston College +7 vs Virginia Tech