Alabama Football: Stuff the run and stuff the Dawgs

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Tavien Feaster
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Tavien Feaster /

Alabama football has an advantage in the national championship game. To win the Tide needs to do what it does best, stuff the Georgia run game.

For Alabama football, the defensive plan against the Georgia Bulldogs is uncomplicated. Keep the Georgia trio of very good running backs in check and make a freshman, pocket passer win the game.

Uncomplicated does not mean the task will not be difficult. The Georgia Bulldogs have the best rushing offense the Tide has faced this season. The Bulldogs are No. 8 in the FBS in Rushing Offense, yards per game. The next best rushing offense among Alabama football opponents was Mississippi State. Those other Bulldogs were No. 12 in the FBS.

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Mississippi State gained 172 yards (3.5 ypc) on the Tide. That total was almost 80 yards below Mississippi State’s season average. That was also the first game after losing Shaun Dion Hamilton for the season. New inside linebacker starter, Keith Holcombe had a tough night against State, causing the Tide defense to be more vulnerable to the running game.

The re-emergence of a mostly healthy Mack Wilson has solidified the Tide’s rush defense. Alabama football does have a new weakness caused by the injury to Anfernee Jennings. There are capable replacements for Jennings but there may not be another Jack linebacker who can set the edge against the run as well as Jennings.

What About Yards After Contact?

In the midst of this optimism over the Tide’s ability to handle Georgia’s rushing attack, we saw this tweet.

Despite being a lover of the Tennessee Volunteers, Chris is a knowledgeable college football observer. He did not reference a source for his stats but we don’t doubt their credibility. Chubb and Michel and D’Andre Swift will get yards after contact against the Tide. But then so will Damien Harris against the Bulldogs. As will Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris if they get enough touches.

The Alabama football running game against the Bulldogs defense will be covered in a follow-up story. Here is a teaser: Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson rushed for 201 yards against Georgia in the Rose Bowl. His 7.7 yards-per-carry average in that game was 1.5 yards more than his season average. A season average compiled playing in the ‘No Defense’ Big 12 conference.

Can Jake Fromm beat the Tide?

Going back to 2008, teams that beat Alabama must get big games from their quarterbacks. The type of QB most dangerous to the Tide is the true dual-threat player, adept at running and passing. Jake Fromm has run with the ball 48 times in 2017. His rushing average is two yards-per-carry. In QB stats, sacks confuse net rushing numbers but nonetheless, Jake Fromm is not a running QB.

Jake Fromm is a very good quarterback. His poise as a true freshman is exceptional. Georgia fans believe Fromm is much better than Jalen Hurts. Even if they are correct, it may not determine the game’s outcome. To beat Georgia, Jalen only has to be good. To beat Bama, Fromm must be great.

Why? Because the Tide defense is capable of diminishing (maybe even stuffing) the Bulldogs powerful rushing attack.

Next: Georgia beating the Sooners helps the Tide