I know it’s tempting to wallow in a “Georgia’s come up short against Alabama in the big one again” mindset after Monday night’s disappointing loss, but my advice to anyone going down that path is to think again. Smart and his team did one thing I haven’t seen happen in a damned long time: they played Alabama on Alabama’s terms and forced the Tide to be the team that had to make the in-game adjustments.
Two years ago, when Saban called an onside kick in the fourth quarter of the title game, it blew people’s minds. But it was a calculated risk — the coaches saw a potential weakness and attempted to exploit it. Removing Hurts from the game and putting in freshman backup Tua Tagovailoa required a whole different kind of leap of faith.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Tagovailoa’s title-winning comeback performance was that he so frequently looked like a little-used true freshman…
This was the roller coaster that Saban has spent most of his coaching life trying to avoid.
The move worked, and Saban deserves all the credit in the world for trusting his gut instincts. Consider, though, that Smart forced Saban into a place he’s worked his entire career to avoid going. In my mind, that’s a big deal.