Alabama versus Georgia is one of the most anticipated matchups of the 2023 season. The Crimson Tide seemed to have peaked at the right time and have an opportunity to boost its resume against a very good Georgia team on Saturday evening.
The Tide had some issues against Auburn last week, as the team struggled against the run and had some difficulties late in the game on offense. For the most part, Alabama has made things look relatively easy in the past few weeks.
That could change against an experienced, talented squad like Georgia. It will not be as easy to get by with bone-headed mistakes or costly penalties.
Roll Tide Wire breaks down the areas of concern ahead of Alabama’s SEC Championship matchup against Georgia.
Stopping the run
Georgia has a two-headed monster at running back. Senior tailbacks Kendall Milton Jr. and Daijun Edwards have carried the load for the Bulldogs this season. The two have combined to rush for 1,425 yards and 21 touchdowns.
In the final game of the regular season, Alabama’s defense allowed 244 rushing yards. Georgia will certainly look to impose their will against Alabama’s defensive front. If they are able to do, it could be a long night for the Crimson Tide.
Neutralizing Brock Bowers
When healthy, Georgia tight end Brock Bowers is one of the best players in college football. He has been so good that Georgia has actually centered their offense around his skillset. Bowers can impact the game as a runner or as a pass-catcher. There has not been a team that has shut down Bowers during his college career.
Alabama will prioritize trying to neutralize Bowers during Saturday’s game. Bowers has been injury prone at different points this season. It will be crucial for Alabama to make things difficult on Bowers. He can single-handedly change the trajectory of the game. Alabama will need to be ready and prepared to stop the 6-foot-4 game changer.
Winning the time of possession
One of the most important aspects of knocking off Georgia will be to control the time of possession. Thus far, Georgia has controlled the time of possession against seven of their eight conference opponents. The only game that Georgia did not was against Auburn in which they struggled.
If Alabama can win the time of possession, they will put themselves in a good position to win the game. If they allow Georgia to stay on the field for long periods of time while sustaining success, it spells disaster for the Crimson Tide.
Georgia’s special teams unit has not allowed any punt return yards this season. The Bulldogs have placed an emphasis on being persistent in that department and it has certainly paid off. Alabama has struggled with punt returns this season. Defensive backs Caleb Downs and Kool-Aid McKinstry have both taken reps at punt returner. If that area is not cleaned up by Saturday, it could come back to bite the Crimson Tide.
Protecting Jalen Milroe
Although it has not been a big issue lately, Alabama’s offensive line will need to place an emphasis on protecting Jalen Milroe. Georgia’s defensive line is stout and has wreaked havoc in opposing teams’ backfields in recent weeks. In the past three weeks, Georgia has had five sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Two of those games came against ranked opponents in Tennessee and Ole Miss.
Kirby Smart and the rest of the defensive coaching staff are going to find ways to dial up pressure on Milroe. That is almost guaranteed. Stunts and blitzes will need to be picked up by the offensive line, or it will prohibit Milroe and the rest of the offense from being able to operate.