I sucked it up last night and watched a replay of the rest of the Alabama game. I know there are a lot of people that found reasons from what happened in the second half to be somewhat optimistic and upbeat about how the game played out. I’m not one of them.
Sure, there was that nice stretch in the third and fourth quarters when ‘Bama lost a little direction and focus and the Dawgs were able to narrow the gap to 31-17. But then came what I thought was the most impressive drive of the game. With all the energy and excitement in the stadium that the home team was feeding off of, here’s how the Tide responded:
Alabama at 14:41 ALA GA 1st and 10 at ALA 34 Glen Coffee rush for 4 yards to the Alab 38. 31 17 2nd and 6 at ALA 38 John Parker Wilson pass complete to Julio Jones for 15 yards to the Geo 47 for a 1ST down. 1st and 10 at GA 47 Glen Coffee rush for 5 yards to the Geo 42. 2nd and 5 at GA 42 John Parker Wilson pass complete to Roy Upchurch for 22 yards to the Geo 20 for a 1ST down. 1st and 10 at GA 20 John Parker Wilson rush for 1 yard to the Geo 19. 2nd and 9 at GA 19 Glen Coffee rush for 1 yard to the Geo 18. 3rd and 8 at GA 18 Timeout GEORGIA, clock 10:34. 3rd and 8 at GA 18 Roy Upchurch rush for 3 yards to the Geo 15. 4th and 5 at GA 15 Leigh Tiffin 32 yard field goal GOOD. 34 17 Leigh Tiffin kickoff for 70 yards returned by Ramarcus Brown for 31 yards to the Geo 31. DRIVE TOTALS: Alab drive: 8 plays 51 yards, 04:56 Alab FG
That’s what very good teams do. Five minutes off the clock and the game killing score meant that it was all over. And if you have the stomach to watch, go back and look at that screen pass in the middle of the drive. It’s textbook. In particular, check out Andre Smith who has the athleticism to get out and take on Curran and the strength to lock him out of the play. You’ll see why this time next year Mr. Smith will be a rich young man.
The game falls apart from there. Georgia does manage to tack on a couple of late scores to make things look closer on the scoreboard and in the stats…
Team Stat Comparison 1st Downs 21 18 3rd down efficiency 4-10 4-13 4th down efficiency 0-0 2-3 Total Yards 334 324 Passing 205 274 Comp-Att 13-16 24-43 Yards per pass 12.8 6.4 Rushing 129 50 Rushing Attempts 45 16 Yards per rush 2.9 3.1 Penalties 2-9 10-81 Turnovers 1 2 Fumbles lost 1 1 Interceptions thrown 0 1 Possession 35:46 24:14
… than they really were. Skip the yardage totals. The tale for this game was told in Wilson’s completion ratio, the penalty numbers and the time of possession and that tale was that Alabama was able to do what its coaches planned and that Georgia managed to make things worse with mistakes.
One last observation – the new clock rules make it almost impossible to mount a second half comeback from a serious deficit. If it hadn’t been for Miller’s punt return, Georgia never would have had a chance. The problem was, as Blackledge noted, that there’s no margin for error. Georgia got three straight three and outs on defense, a blocked punt and a 92-yard punt return and still had to maintain that pace for two more touchdowns just to get back to even. That’s a tall order for any team, let alone one that had injury problems.