Nick Saban's postgame take on UGA and more
Following No. 2 Alabama’s 41-24 win over No. 3 Georgia, head coach Nick Saban was certainly proud of his Crimson Tide. Trailing 24-17 late in the second quarter, Alabama scored 24 consecutive points, while its offense seemingly moved the ball at will against the Bulldogs.
“Well, this was an obvious great win against a very, very good football team. I was really proud of the way our guys fought in the game,” Saban began, speaking after the victory. “I have a lot of respect for Georgia, a lot of respect for the coaches. I have a lot of respect for their players. Especially proud of our guys, to be able to do what they did. This was a great win for them. They worked hard. They were excited after the game. They were really happy.”
…The main storyline entering the game was how Alabama’s high-powered offense was going to fare against Georgia’s defense, which was considered by many to be the top defensive unit in college football. The Crimson Tide offense performed just fine. In fact, Mac Jones’ passing performance ranks as one of the most efficient against the Bulldogs in recent memory. For the game, the redshirt junior completed 24 of 32 passes for 417 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. Georgia had entered the contest ranked third in the FBS in passing efficiency defense.
“I think Mac did very well. He stayed in a good place,” Saban said. “He had his eyes in the right place most of the time on most of the reads and played really well.”
…Georgia had to contend with Jones throwing to a three-headed receiving monster of DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie. The trio combined for 20 receptions for 378 yards and all four touchdowns.
“Trying to cover outstanding receivers is really a difficult task,” Saban said of his receiving trio. “You have to have a really, really good secondary. You have to have really good guys to match up. That’s been an advantage for us.”
…Accompanying Alabama’s potent passing attack was a steady ground game featuring Najee Harris, who rushed for 152 yards on 31 carries. Harris’ scoring run late in the third quarter extended his streak of rushing for a touchdown to 11 consecutive games, while ending Georgia’s streak of 18 consecutive games of not allowing a rushing touchdown by a non-quarterback. The Bulldogs entered the contest ranked first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 38.3 rushing yards per game.
“Our offensive line did a really good job against their really good [defensive front],” Saban said. “When you get ahead in the game, you want to be able to run the ball and run the clock out. That’s why you have to be able to run the ball. I think the [offensive] balance we had was the reason why we were able to be successful. It was a really good offensive performance.”
…While Alabama was putting on a good offensive performance, it’s defense kept Georgia off the scoreboard in the second half. After scoring on all four of its drives to close the first half (touchdown-touchdown-field goal-touchdown), the Bulldogs punted on their first two drives following halftime, before quarterback Stetson Bennett threw back-to-back interceptions. Bennett, who entered not having been intercepted in 84 pass attempts, was picked off three times by the Tide. For the game, he completed only 18 of 40 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns.
“The turnovers in the second half were huge. The defense played a little better in the second half. We got off the field on third down a little better," Saban said. "I think the offense did a magnificent job against Georgia’s really, really good defense. They’ve got a really good defense."