Andy Staples identifies what went wrong with Georgia’s defensive game plan in the SECCG ($$):
… But while Tide linemen looked confused frequently against Texas A&M, LSU and Auburn, they didn’t look confused at all against the Bulldogs. Why? Probably because Georgia did exactly what it did all season and didn’t show Alabama linemen anything they hadn’t seen before.
This isn’t exactly a criticism of Smart and Lanning. They were playing with house money in the SEC title game. They would make the College Football Playoff win or lose. So why not do exactly what had produced the most dominant results we’d seen from a defense in this wide-open era of football?
The only problem is that this didn’t account for two things:
1) Alabama has better players than any team Georgia had played to that point.
2) Young played the best game of his young career. Sometimes, there is no stopping a great QB.
Of course, “playing with house money” may have led to the second thing on his list… but I digress, sort of. Anyway, and I don’t think this is a genius take by any means, the house money has been taken off the table and the Dawgs must come up with a different defensive approach. Andy argues they don’t have to go very far to find one — just run the tape on Alabama’s season.
How might Smart and Lanning deploy those players differently? By identifying what bothered Young and Alabama’s offensive line all season. And what was that?
Deception up front.
Again, it doesn’t take a genius, just somebody who’s watched what some sharp defensive coordinators did to confuse Bryce Young along the way. (Staples thoughtfully provides some examples.)
Where Andy does get some bonus points is that, despite whatever criticisms you might want to lob Smart’s way about being stubborn, there is a very famous example of him adapting his defense to meet the challenge of a prolific offense: the second half of the Rose Bowl, against Oklahoma.
Does history repeat? The good thing is that it’s not that Georgia’s defense has to completely shut down the Tide’s offense to win; it just needs to do enough to keep Georgia’s offense in the game.