Injury situations: Both teams are a little more banged up in certain areas and healthy in others. We’ll start with Alabama, which lost star wideout John Metchie at the end of the first half in the SEC Championship game. He suffered a heart-breaking ACL injury after catching six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulldogs gave up 24 points in the first half and Metchie was a huge part of that. It’s no coincidence that UGA’s defense held Alabama to 10 second half points (17 overall due to a Bama pick-six) with Metchie no longer in the fold. The Crimson Tide are also dealing with a number of other ailments.
“Outside of the obvious, like John Metchie (ACL), Alabama’s biggest injury concerns are at cornerback and on the offensive line,” BamaOnline’s Charlie Potter tells Dawgs247. “Josh Jobe could miss another game because of a terf toe injury, and Jalyn Armour-Davis is dealing with a nagging hip issue. The latter started the Cotton Bowl but only played a couple of series. If neither player can go, The Crimson Tide will turn to true freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry and junior college transfer Khyree Jackson. As for the offensive line, two starters exited the Cincinnati game and didn’t return — right guard Emil Ekiyor and right tackle Chris Owens. At this moment I would lean towards both guys being able to go, but we will see how the week progresses.”
It’s also worth noting that Alabama running back Brian Robinson is a lot healthier than he was in the SEC Championship game. He didn’t practice much at all leading up to that game but he certainly looks good now. He lit Cincinnati up for 204 yards on 26 carries in the Cotton Bowl on Friday.
Georgia, overall, is much healthier. Senior left tackle Jamaree Salyer entered the Orange Bowl in better physical shape than he has been all season. He played a huge part in thwarting Michigan’s vaunted pass rush in the Bulldogs 34-11 win. Senior safety Chris Smith is also in a much better spot after sustaining a bone bruise in his knee late in the regular season. He was nowhere near 100 percent in the SEC Championship game and didn’t get the start. It showed, too, as Smith was laboring at times in coverage.
The Bulldogs leading receiver on the season and in the SEC Championship game, Brock Bowers, is a little dinged up. He sustained a shoulder injury in the Bama game but played quite well against Michigan.
Metchie’s absence is critical, no doubt. He’s still fourth in the conference in receiving yards per game and third in receptions. It’s worth noting that ‘Bama got a good game out of freshman Ja’Corey Brooks in his absence, though. That’s what teams loaded with talent tend to do when a key injury occurs.
I am more interested in tracking the status of the two ‘Bama linemen who had to leave the semifinal game early. I assume they’ll play in a week, but how close they’ll be to 100% is something I doubt we’ll know until the game starts.
Of course, left unsaid is what havoc COVID might wreak between now and then. I assume both coaches have their teams in virtual bubbles this week. One good thing is that the weather in Indianapolis isn’t conducive to public events.