Last night, I did something that I know I would never have done but for this blog. I made myself sit down and watch a replay of the first half of the ‘Bama game. I’m not going to bore anyone with a detailed breakdown of what went wrong (besides, I promised I wouldn’t do that), but I did find that most of my general impressions of what happened along the way to that 31-0 debacle sitting in the stands were confirmed on the tube, so I thought I’d share some.
First of all, Saban and his staff did a superlative job of scouting Georgia and drawing up a game plan that took advantage of certain tendencies they anticipated they would see in the game. On offense, that meant throwing on early downs expecting that Georgia would be defending the run and playing a lot of soft zone in the secondary. On defense, Alabama’s priorities were to clog the line to stuff the run and deny Stafford the deep ball. All of those bets paid off handsomely.
To make matters worse, Georgia’s defense lost Ellerbe early and seemed to have some problems at key times with communication and getting situated properly. A couple of times Wilson completed passes to teammates who were not being covered. Add in the lopsided time of possession and the stupid penalties and it’s fairly easy to see why ‘Bama was able to dominate the scoreboard and the stats like this:
The story on offense that made matters worse was that it was clear from the get go that, just like in last year’s South Carolina game, neither Bobo nor Stafford trusted the offensive line, which in turn affected their decision making. Bobo wouldn’t commit to running the football and Matt looked skittish throwing the ball, even though his o-line gave him decent pass protection in the first half. Neither was patient about taking what ‘Bama was giving on defense – and there were things, like the slant pass, that were there in the first half. Giving Moreno so few chances to run the ball played into Saban’s hands, as well.