This is Where the football season never ends! Bama News first, and foremost, interesting SEC news, and salient football news:
Saban is noted for saying he doesnít want his players to think about results, but instead worry about the process that will get them to the top. Even so, Sabanís record when he has a shot at a championship seems worth talking about. Now, less than three weeks after a listless performance in a 29-24 loss to Texas A&M, Alabama appears to have reawakened. The poll shakeup Nov. 17 gave Alabama (and Georgia) a second chance. The Crimson Tide responded with a devastatingly methodical 49-0 beating of Auburn. The Tigers appeared toothless, although running back Tre Mason told reporters the players hadnít given up on their embattled coaches, who got their walking papers from Auburn on Sunday. Bear Bryant used to tell his Alabama players they needed to show the other team early and often why they had won a national championship. Sabanís Tide did that to Auburn on Saturday. Now, can Alabama do that to Georgia?
"As a team, you never want to lose a game when youíve won the first half, when youíve dominated that way," Georgia senior linebacker Christian Robinson said, alluding to a 10-0 lead for Georgia that turned into a 42-10 LSU win in this game last year. "Thatís been on our minds, the pictures of Tyrone Mathieu scoring on us. We couldíve done so much better. We have a different team, a different opponent. Weíre coming to put our best foot forward." "We really wanna go out there and not have a repeat of last year," senior defensive end Cornelius Washington said. "We had a chance at it last year, and we let it slip through our fingers. And weíre not gonna let that happen this year. Weíre not gonna let the same thing go down. We really wanna go out and win and give ourselves a place in Miami. Weíve been talking about it the entire season. Weíve been training for it since the beginning of the year."
"As far as how we approach it, there are some similarities," Richt said. "We run pro-style attacks offensively, run the 3-4 defense, quarterbacks that have been highly efficient, have been around a little bit, play some big games over their careers. Ö The one thing theyíve done is theyíve been national champions and weíve not. Theyíve been SEC champions and weíve not during the time frame of these kids careers."
Mark Richtís Georgia Bulldogs arenít just up against Nick Sabanís Alabama Crimson Tide in their bid to win an SEC Championship and a place in the BCS title game. Outside the Peach State, UGA is widely, if unfairly, viewed as some sort of interloper that really ought not to be in the national championship discussion at this stage of the season. Thatís especially true with the national sports media. ESPN wants a ratings-powerhouse Notre Dame-Alabama matchup in the BCS national championship game so badly that it can barely contain itself.
Itís this simple: Georgia has an opportunity to affirm itself as a member of the SECís elite, and ranking among the SEC elite is synonymous with the national elite. Imagine how this feels for Richt, after seeing his program seemingly erode over several months, going 7-9 in consecutive SEC seasons, losing to the likes of Kentucky, Mississippi State, Colorado and Central Florida. "Itís what you always hope for," Richt said Sunday of the teamís position this week. "Itís what you want. We know pre‑season rankings are for the fans. Where youíre ranked at the end of the year is the most important. [But] itís not about me. Itís about Georgia. Itís about this program, this team, these young men, this coaching staff. I donít worry too much about all the personal stuff. But it is great to be in this position at this point. You fight like mad every year to get your team in this position."
The similarities between these teams are what make this an intriguing matchup. Both teams run pro-style offenses and feature a 3-4 defensive scheme. Both have efficient quarterbacks who rarely make mistakes. Georgiaís Aaron Murray and Alabamaís AJ McCarron are No. 1 and 2 in the nation in passing efficiency, respectively. If the game comes down to quarterback play, Murray and McCarron have played in their fair share of big games. "Itís going to be a matter of making good decisions, managing the situations as they go," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. "I think everybody is going to have to be a little bit patient in this game." Those quarterbacks each have a running back tandem that rivals any backfield in the country. Freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall power Georgia. Gurley has rushed for 1,138 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Marshall has racked up 720 yards and eight touchdowns. Junior Eddie Lacy and freshman T.J. Yeldon pound away at defenses for the Tide. Lacy has gained 1,001 yards and 14 touchdowns, with Yeldon adding 847 yards and 10 touchdowns. "I think [Georgia] is an outstanding team because of the balance that is created by their ability to run the ball effectively with good runners, as well as having a good quarterback and good skill guys to make plays outside in the passing game," Saban said.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said Cooper is Alabamaís "go-to guy." "Some of the long‑yardage receptions have been just launching it out there deep and him making a play," Richt said Sunday. "Heís also caught a couple balls, shorter‑range balls, made people miss, has taken it to the house or had some big plays. Heís very versatile." Cooper did not, however, lead the team in yards per catch. That was the speedster Bellís specialty. Bell averaged more than 25 yards per reception and was quarterback AJ McCarronís best deep threat. "Kenny has done a fantastic job for us," Saban said Sunday. "He has great vertical speed, makes a lot of catches, certainly complements the other guys that we have." Saban noted the early loss of Black, along with season-ending injuries to Bell and DeAndrew White, stretched the receiving corps. "Thatís always a difficult circumstance," the coach said. "But we have other good players that have played consistently for us this year. Weíre going to try to put them in the best position to utilize the skills they have and hopefully make some plays for us. "AJ has done a great job of getting the ball to the right guy and hopefully will continue to be able to do that."
Like some of you probably did, I spent Sunday evening watching the replay of Alabama's 49-0 win over Auburn. It's good to get a second viewing when I'm not worried about writing all the things for our print and online coverage. I see things I missed the first time.Here are a few thoughts:
Alabama wide receiver Kenny Bell underwent surgery Sunday morning for the broken leg he suffered Saturday against Auburn, and head coach Nick Saban already has a possible replacement in mind: True freshman Chris Black, who hasnít played a down this year after hurting his shoulder in the first week of preseason practice. Black, who had surgery on the shoulder, returned to practice three weeks ago in a limited capacity. He wasnít cleared for contact drills at the time, and Saban had intended to redshirt him. On Sunday, Saban said doctors have cleared Black, and he could get a chance to shore up Alabamaís depleted wide receiver corps as the second-ranked Crimson Tide (11-1) prepares to face No. 3 Georgia (11-1) in the SEC Championship Game. "We may have to revisit whether we redshirt him or go ahead and let him play," Saban said.
Saban said doctors have cleared true freshmanChris Black, who had surgery in August for a shoulder injury suffered in preseason practice. Black returned to practice three weeks ago, but Saban still intended to redshirt him.
The 24-hour rule that University of Alabama players are expected to adhere to following games - 24 hours to celebrate wins or repress losses before focusing on the next opponent - didn't sound as if it was in play ...