Dawgs only get halfway, again
Georgia’s bipolar nature proved fatal yet again in Saturday’s defeat to Alabama. In three out of four games this season, Georgia’s offense has picked a half to look really promising and a half to look really unconvincing. The offensive play in the second half was the culprit this time as the unit failed to muster a single point, but not for a lack of opportunities.
Georgia emerged from the locker room after halftime with the lead for the third straight time against Alabama. The Bulldogs had a chance to extend their lead immediately but were unable to do so. Head coach Kirby Smart said that really pushed momentum in Alabama’s favor.
“I was really pleased with the way our guys competed, just frustrated that we couldn’t get anything going in the second half,” he said. “Especially that opening drive I thought we were going to be able to run the ball down and then we stalled out. We lost momentum after that point.”
Georgia’s defense forced a punt and granted the offense with yet another chance to extend the lead. The offense was once again unable to do so which forced Jake Camarda to pin the Tide deep before Jaylen Waddle took it 90 yards to make it 27-24 Alabama.
The Bulldogs put themselves in position to regain the lead on the ensuing possession when Jermaine Burton hauled in a 36-yard reception followed by a 10-yard rush by James Cook. With the ball on the Alabama 25-yard line, Georgia up and abandoned the running game that looked so promising all night by passing the ball three straight plays. The third attempt became Stetson Bennett’s second interception.
Bennett acknowledged Georgia’s inability to put points on the board despite the fact that they were able to move the ball at a good clip (5.9 yards per play).
“I still feel like we moved it,” he said. “We just didn’t finish the drives like we did in the first half.”
Perhaps one of the more telling stats in the contest was points off turnovers. Alabama scored a touchdown following each one of Bennett’s interceptions while the Bulldogs forced just one turnover and were left empty-handed after it.
“I think it has a lot to do with players, calls, execution and a combination of a lot of things,” Smart said. “But, I do know this: if you turn it over three times in the second half and they don’t turn it over any, you’re probably not going to win.”
The game wasn’t lopsided in terms of what you’d expect to determine the outcome of a game. Georgia had 12 drives, short of Alabama by just one. Out of those 12 drives, Georgia only had one 3-and-Out. Georgia’s average starting field position was its own 31-yard line while Alabama’s was its own 26.
In the end, it came down to which team was executing enough at the end of drives to put points on the board. And for the last thirty minutes on Saturday, Georgia was incapable of doing so. Missed opportunities and points off of turnovers were the deciding factor in this matchup.
If Georgia is to meet Alabama again at the end of the season, the Bulldogs must start playing two full halves instead of just one.