Last night, Graham put up a good post on the key matchups to watch Monday night, with supporting stats. I’m probably getting close to continuing to smack the deceased equine about it, but his first one is my biggest concern.
Alabama’s WR’s vs UGA’s Slot DB/Star Position – The good news for Georgia? There’s no John Metchie in this matchup. Metchie turned in 6 receptions for 97 yards and a TD in just under a half of play before tearing his ACL in the first game between these two teams. While we hate to see any player get injured, there’s no doubt that not having him on the field changes the calculus in this game quite a bit. Jameson Williams will still be on the field, and with 7 catches for 186 yards and 2 TD’s he too toasted Georgia in the first game.
However dealing with one elite WR is a whole lot easier than trying to guard two. In game one Georgia actually held up pretty well on the boundaries.
Kelee Ringo: 6 TGT/2 REC, 63 YDS, 1 TD, 5 YAC
Derion Kendrick: 5 TGT/3 REC, 27 YDS, 9 YAC
If you told Georgia they were going to go into a game against Alabama and their boundary corners would only give up one big play and 5 receptions they would take it every single time. The problem in matchup one came when UGA had to guard the middle of the field. William Poole III got his first career start in the SEC Championship, and Alabama hunted him all day.
Poole: 11 TGT’s/9 REC’s, 164 YDS, 2 TD’s, 111 YAC allowed
Yikes, that’s abusive.
Graham thinks they’ll be using Brini and Smith some at the Star to reduce the risk and maybe he’s right, but the whispering I’ve heard this past week is that the coaches are still all in on Poole (the same whispers say he’s looked much better in practice, for what that’s worth). There aren’t any perfect options. Brini has had issues with speed in the open field, although I thing he’s terrific in short field/red zone situations. If you play Smith at the Star, that means you’ve got Jackson at safety, and he also isn’t built to handle the speed of ‘Bama’s wideouts.
In any event, if, like me, you believe Georgia isn’t built to win shootouts, your first concern shouldn’t be Stetson Bennett, but the leaky sieve in the defensive secondary. Let’s hope Smart and Lanning have figured out a way to patch it up.