It’s been a while since I’ve seen an interior defensive lineman dominate a game the way Da’Ron Payne did last night.
DT Da’Ron Payne, 96.4 overall grade
Payne was a monster all game, both against the pass and the vaunted Georgia rushing attack. On 35 pass-rushing snaps, Payne brought in seven total QB pressures, constantly pushing the interior of the Georgia offensive line back. Although he didn’t record a sack in the contest, he affected freshman QB Jake Fromm on multiple occasions, and that may not even be where he was most effective on the evening. On 32 snaps in run defense, Payne brought in a ridiculous six stops on nine total tackles. Running between the tackles yielded the Georgia rushing attack just 3.23 yards per carry, as Payne was a key cog to stopping the Bulldogs running backs. Likely his last season in Tuscaloosa, Payne put the exclamation point on his career with two strong performances in postseason play, and should almost certainly hear his name called on the first day of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Georgia tried blocking him with almost every lineman at its disposal, and when that didn’t work, went to double-teaming Payne, which had slightly better success at a cost of leaving someone else free. You can be damned sure he was in Jake Fromm’s head much of the night.
If he turns pro, I won’t miss him.