Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has no intention of letting the last-second fail in the 2012 SEC title game go away.
Georgia had the ball on the Alabama 8-yard-line with 9 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs had no timeouts and instead of spiking the ball, quarterback Aaron Murray attempted a pass to the corner, but it was deflected and landed in the hands of receiver Chris Conley, who slipped at the 5 as time ran out.
Alabama won 32-28 and went on to play for a national title.
Now, let’s pretend for a moment that Georgia would have spiked the ball — or the ball would have fallen incomplete — and the Bulldogs had time to regroup, time to run a drawn up play. What would Georgia have called?
According to the Macon Telegraph, Bobo told a group at last Thursday's UGA Day meeting in Augusta that he had a play for that situation and that it wasn’t from Georgia’s playbook, rather from studying film of Florida during the 2008 SEC title game where the Gators defeated the Crimson Tide 31-20.
In that game, Florida, led by quarterback Tim Tebow, scored on three touchdown passes inside the 20-yard line.
“We had actually gone back to, I don’t know what it was, it was one of the Florida-Alabama games, where Alabama had given up three red zone scores to Florida," Bobo said. "It was a play that Florida had actually ran against Alabama. It was an empty set, and had two primary front-side, and a double-slant backside.
"It was something from ’08 or ’09 that (Tim) Tebow had completed against them. Because I remember after that game, [Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart] was talking about how, ‘We just couldn’t stop them in the red zone.’ So we just studied that hard."
Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph identified each of Florida’s scoring plays:
- On Florida's opening drive, the Gators had third-and-goal from the Alabama 3. It was an empty set, and Tebow took a shotgun snap, was quickly rushed, but found receiver Carl Moore in the left side of the end zone. Moore was in single coverage, bumped off his cornerback and went left, and caught the ball as he fell down.
- Late in the second quarter, Florida had third-and-goal from the 5. In another empty set, three receivers lined right. The far inside receiver was David Nelson, who was in single coverage from a strong safety. Nelson went to the end zone and curled slightly right, where Tebow hit him for the touchdown.
- The final touchdown of the game came on another 5-yard touchdown pass, this time to Riley Cooper. This was also an empty backfield, but Cooper was lined up far right in a five-receiver set. Cooper cut right, then cut in, and Tebow hit Cooper as he was cutting in.
Would one of Florida’s plays been the magic one to propel the Bulldogs to the national championship over the Crimson Tide? We’ll never really know, but it was a good idea in theory especially since Alabama’s defensive scheme hadn’t changed much since that Florida game.
But Georgia never got the chance to see if it would work and now they’ve probably spoiled any element of surprise they might have had if the two teams meet in the SEC title game this year.
Regardless, it will be a “what if” moment that will stick with Bobo for a long time.
"Like probably everybody out here, I don’t think we’re ever gonna get over that game,” Bobo said. "First meeting back with the players back, and the offense, I said: Men, people keep telling you you’ve gotta get over it and get ready to go. The bottom line is you’re never gonna get over it, you gotta learn to live with it, you’ve gotta regroup to play the next game, and get better the next day."
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