The result wasn’t as surprising as the method or severity. Alabama’s 41-24 pounding of Georgia in Saturday’s SEC Championship was significant enough to delay our next-day rewind all the way to Monday.
Perhaps the playoff announcement played a role in delaying this weekly tradition into the work week but here we go regardless. From a 6.5-pound underdog to convincing league champion, Alabama’s unscriptable journey of a 2021 season took another unforeseen turn in Atlanta.
Here are our notes from the next-day DVR rewind of a 17-point exclamation point on the regular season.
— The first quarter wasn’t one to remember and there were some missed opportunities/mistakes on the opening sequence. First, Jordan Battle missed a tackle in the backfield on the first snap that ended with a DeMarcco Hellams’ late hit flag. Both DBs, it would turn out, had key interceptions later but Georgia had the ball past the 50 after one play. Battle would drop a Pick 6 a few snaps later, but again, he had one in the fourth quarter so it all leveled out.
— It was interesting to see Alabama’s early plan to combat Georgia’s defense and it was mid-2010s Ole Miss/Auburn speed. They sprinted back to the line of scrimmage after the first 10-yard pass to Jameson Williams, ready for a snap within 10 seconds before pausing. Also notable that Alabama threw a quick screen to Williams on the first play before taking a shot deep to John Metchie on the second in a reversal of their typical roles.
— I don’t think you can overstate the value of Alabama’s offensive line protecting Bryce Young and creating a few running lanes. It was interesting to hear Kirby Smart’s thoughts on pass rush after they failed to record a sack when Auburn had seven last week. From watching film, Smart said Auburn pass rushers were already past Alabama O-lineman off the snap because he thought the crowd noise impacted their get-off time. Georgia fans greatly outnumbered Alabama’s but not to that degree.
— It’s also worth noting Young’s slippery elusiveness in the backfield helped avoid a few sacks that most QBs would’ve taken.
— Georgia really was nibbling with the quick passes and runs that appeared to sprint away from Will Anderson. Georgia had issues after the first quarter but they didn’t have many negative plays. Alabama was No. 2 nationally with 8.3 tackles for loss per game entering and had 15 last week at Auburn before recording 6 against Georgia.
— On the flip side, the Bulldogs had just one tackle for loss until the final Alabama possession when it stopped three behind the line in obvious rushing situations. The 4.0 Georgia tackles for loss tied Southern Miss for the fewest of an Alabama opponent. Southern Miss finished the season with a 3-9 record.
— Alabama punter James Burnip had his best game of the year by averaging 43.8 yards in five punts. That included a season-long 50-yarder in the first quarter. Khyree Jackson had a nice over-the-shoulder catch at the 3-yard line on his second attempt. Sidenote, Jackson ran into Slade Bolden on the warmup-ending punt where the full team runs toward the returner but never make contact. Bolden hit the ground and was slow to get up but went on to have a season-high five catches.
— Georgia chewed up 11:28 of the first quarter clock before taking a 10-0 lead on the first play of the second. Stetson Bennett outshined Bryce Young completing 9 of his first 11 passes for 131 yards while Young was 4-for-9 with 38 yards in the first quarter.
— Georgia had a well-schemed offensive game plan that attacked with size and tight ends. There were a few perimeter plays where they overwhelmed Alabama defenders with numbers.
— Georgia tight end Brock Bowers is one of the more impressive freshmen I’ve seen. His 10 catches and 139 yards kept Georgia in business when nobody else seemed like a threat in the passing game. There was a low ball he caught with pure hand strength late while going up to catch a few more downfield and broke a few tackles for a second-half touchdown.
— It’s hard to overstate the importance of the third-down disparity between the two. Georgia was just 3-for-12 for a season-low 25% while converting 2-for-4 on fourth downs. Alabama, the No. 2 third-down offense in the nation, was 7-for-14. The 50% success rate was the best a Georgia opponent had all season and bettered the 31.6% average allowance.
— Perhaps no third down was bigger than the first one of the second quarter when Alabama was down 10-0 and getting outgained 159-54 and had no offensive rhythm. I remember a quick press box comment before the third-and-two snap about how important this play felt given the scenario and momentum. Young punched the turf after a first-down incompletion thrown under duress.
— That third-and-two play? The Jameson Williams 67-yard touchdown that looked like a bust in a zone defense and the speedy junior just blew away a seemingly good tackling angle. Williams averaged 26.3 yards per catch Saturday with a season average of 21.3in 68 receptions.
— The touchdown was the second of nine straight completions that likely won Young the Heisman. A first-and-20 deep ball for 40 yards to Metchie was another big one on the following drive on a ball he threw from near his own goal line.
— The last ball Metchie caught this season was a 23-yarder on third-and-10 just before halftime on the drive that gave Alabama its final lead of the game.
— Young was 6-for-11 for 151 yards on third down with four different players catching passes to convert those into first downs.
— Young ran it three times and gained first downs or a touchdown on every attempt. His 14-yarder late in the second quarter set up his 11-yard touchdown scamper.
— Can’t remember seeing a drive start with 10- or 15-yard flags on the first four plays of a drive. Alabama was called for defensive holding and consecutive pass interference flags while Georgia was nailed for holding on the second play. One of the two PI calls was questionable but the one on Brian Branch that drew boos was a textbook example of the penalty. Georgia scored two plays later on a fairly fluky drive.
— It feels Alabama wasn’t always as sharp on the first offensive drive after halftime but they put Georgia in the official danger zone with the quick strike that made it a two-touchdown game. After decent runs for 6 and 5 yards by Robinson, Young hit another deep shot. We had a great view in the press box of the sly move Williams put on the last defender with a shot. DB Lewis Cline was watching Williams with his back to the line of scrimmage but the WR didn’t reach for the ball until the last second so to not tip him off to the ball’s arrival. Young dropped it in the bucket and it was 31-17 after five straight scoring drives.
— Georgia had two straight quality drives that ate more than 5:30 off the clock each but produced no points.
— Will Anderson didn’t have a sack until late but his pressure on Bennett helped force the first INT that Hellams picked off deep in Georgia territory.
— Alabama’s offense didn’t do much after the early touchdown in the second half as it got a defensive touchdown and three straight punts. Saban was happy with the 12-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a field goal and 5:09 taken off the fourth-quarter clock right when Georgia was getting some offensive momentum back.