The 2008 season was the last time the Crimson Tide was allowed in Athens. The way the game started, with Alabama jumping out to a 31 point halftime lead gives you a clear indication on why Georgia fans may relish the chance to play a big game against a team like Alabama. However, was Saturday served as a reminder as to why they don’t do it often.
Which team was going to prevent the costly turnovers in a game with heavy rain? With the presence of Hurricane Joaquin lingering on the east coast bringing rain and winds, the team that could prevent the big mistakes would have the greater chance to get the win.
The way the game started it appeared that Georgia will be given the upper hand and the chance to take advantage of early Alabama mistakes. Bama’s Derrick Henry was the first to put the ball on the ground, recovered by Georgia. A swarming defense that made it a mission not to allow Georgia’s top running back to beat them Nick Chubb; Alabama forced the Bulldogs to punt.
That was the theme of the day for the defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and the Alabama defense, keep Chubb bottled up as best as they can and force Greyson Lambert to win the game. Chubb’s end of the game stats were misleading, 20 carries for 146 and a touchdown, 83 of those yards came on one play. When he was able to break through the line and get to the second level, there wasn’t anyone in sight for a long touchdown run. By that time the game was pretty much well in hand.
The wet ball and the stout defense from Alabama had both Lambert and Brice Ramsey flustered. It also didn’t help their confidence that the receivers dropped balls on key downs to extend drives. Lambert was replaced by Ramsey late in the second quarter after a couple of errant throws, hoping that it would spark something in his offense since they fell down by 21.
The fact Georgia was down wasn’t solely based on the offense not producing, it was based on defense and mistakes. A 30-yard run by Derrick Henry in which he gashed the Georgia defense for a touchdown, the punt team not blocking Minkah Fitzpatrick, who ran through the line untouched to block the punt and scoop the ball up and trot in for a touchdown. Oh, and the safety getting turned around on a go route by Calvin Ridley so Jake Coker could have open field to throw the ball resulting in a 45-yard touchdown. That’s 21 points you can’t blame on the offense.
What you can point to is Mark Richt, why did he put Ramsey in the game in the first place? When you come out in the second half it is a chance to start over and focus on the adjustments made. Didn’t quite work out that way for Ramsey, the first play of their initial possession in the second half, was intercepted by Alabama safety Eddie Jackson. Not only did he get the interception, but Jackson returned it for a defensive touchdown to blow the game wide open, which put a look of bewilderment on Mark Richt’s face.
Late third quarter and beyond brought the heaviest rain during the game and it showed. Both teams relied on the run game more and the defenses were the beneficiaries of some mishandled wet soaked footballs. A couple of fumbles on back-to-back possessions by Jake Coker of Alabama and a fumble by Lambert on a sack. An interception by both Ramsey and Lambert pretty much solidified how the game went for the Bulldogs.