The second-ranked University of Alabama football wasn't content Saturday to just punch its ticket to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. The Crimson Tide also punched out its cross-state rival, knocking..
After the Crimson Tide won last yearís national championship, itís well-known that Saban met with his returning players a couple days later and told them they did not win a national championship, that was last yearís team. Sunday, Saban was asked if he thinks this yearís team understood what that meant. "I think they understood right from the start," he said. "Thereís quite a few guys on this team that were on the 2010 team that probably didnít live up to expectations after having success in 2009. "I think at least to have some leadership and some experience in the group that saw the difference between the 2010 and 2011 team in terms of just the whole approach, the whole sort of competitive character, attitude, being hungry, whatever you want to call it, I think they realized that the legacy of this team would be defined by what they did and what last year's team did wouldn't have anything to do with that."
The Bulldogs will face perhaps their biggest test of the year from an Alabama offense that is averaging one more point per game (39.0) than Georgia's own explosive offense (38.0). The Crimson Tide have been effective both running (214.2 ypg) and throwing (218.8 ypg), so Georgia's defensive players know they'll have to be at their best if they are to unseat the defending BCS champions. "You just can't focus on their running game because they have a passing game somewhat," defensive tackle John Jenkins said. "So just being able to find a way to stop them is what we're going to have to do. We're going to have to find a way because they're a very explosive team, very skilled players, very great coaching staff over there. They won the national championship over there last year, so you've got to respect them."
Q. You are outscoring opponents in the third quarter this year. What explains that, and how big is that going into Atlanta? A. I guess we've made some adjustments and played well coming out in the second half. I think a lot of it is the fact when we win the coin toss, we defer to the second half. We've gotten the ball for one more possession in the third quarter because we are the ones getting the ball first. We won a lot of coin tosses. We were getting the ball a lot in the second half. As far as what it means for this game, I don't know if it means a whole lot really. I think every single drive is going to be crucial. Every series is going to be very, very important. I think it's a game where, again, I know we feel we're going to have to be patient offensively and understand that we are playing a defense that's the best in the country, best in the league. We got to be able to be patient, bang away the best we can, look for opportunities to make plays.
Q. A day after Kenny Bell goes down for the year, a lot of injuries with the receivers, what does this do to the other receivers? A. Kenny has done a fantastic job for us. He has great vertical speed, makes a lot of catches, certainly complements the other guys that we have. Chris Black is a guy that has been cleared medically to maybe come back and play. He has been practicing for two or three weeks. We may have to revisit whether we decide to redshirt him or go ahead and let him play. But this is actually the third receiver that we've had go down, all guys in the two deep. That's always a difficult circumstance. But we have other good players that have played consistently for us this year. We're 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.
"I feel like weíre more talented," Rambo said, according to this blog post on AJC.com. "We have better players at each position, across the board, especially on defense. Itís going to be a great challenge for us. I know itís going to be a battle. Itís going to come down to who has the best defense and who makes more turnovers. Itís going to be a battle of the defenses."
"I think you try to do what you do," Richt said. "We're not going to reinvent the wheel by any means this week. There's got to be a patience level. We have to understand that it's important at the end of every drive to have a kick. If it's a punt, it's OK. Punting's OK. "We (have) just got to make sure we're not trying to do more than any play is set up to do," he added, keeping his cool demeanor. "If something is there, we (have) got to be able to hit it in the passing game. If it's not, we've got to be able to throw it away. We've got to be able to manage the game well, be wise and patient." "Wise and patient" are ironic words in a league that may have five coaching vacancies by Tuesday morning, but that has been the approach at Georgia in the Richt administration, and it has worked in every way short of the national title. Alabama may well continue that streak. It may replicate the dominant start of the last meeting between the two schools, a 2008 blowout win for Alabama in Athens. But whatever happens, don't look for this Georgia team to react with panic.
The SEC is headed back to the national championship. With Alabama and Georgia both winning on Saturday, the winner of the SEC championship game is headed to Miami for the Discover BCS National Championship. And now that the regular season is over, we also know the SEC has nine teams that are bowl eligible.