Alabama football starters on both sides of the ball are in doubt for the National Championship game. A known is Kool-Aid McKinstry will start again in place of injured cornerback, Josh Jobe. At the other primary cornerback position, Jalyn Armour-Davis has not been ruled, but given his physical limitations against Cincinnati, his participation in the National Championship game appears unlikely. Instead of JAD, Khyree Jackson would again step into the position.
On the offensive line, Emil Ekiyor and Chris Owens were injured in the semi-final. Ekiyor missed most of the game, while Owens went out late. Freshman J.C. Latham replaced Ekiyor and performed competently. The late-game replacement for Owens was somewhat of a surprise, with little-used Amari Kight at right tackle.
In place of starting wide receiver, John Metchie III, Nick Saban and Holman Wiggins chose Ja’Corey Brooks as the starter. Brooks responded with four receptions for 66 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown. Javon Baker and JoJo Earle saw action at wide receiver as well, but neither player recorded a reception.
Playing for a National Championship without, Metchie, Josh Jobe, probably without Jalyn Armour-Davis and possibly without Ekiyor and Owens is a concern. For two very different reasons, even if all those players were to miss the game, the Crimson Tide should still be the favorite.
The Deep and Talented Alabama Football Roster
One reason is the quality of the Alabama Football roster. A secondary that had problems early in the season, has become very good. McKinstry has already shown he can play at a high level. Against Cincinnati, Khyree Jackson played with so much confidence, his on-field demeanor should be defined as swagger. In addition, along with continued strong play from Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams, Brian Branch and Daniel Wright are playing their best football of the season.
Latham did well in the Tide’s run game. He is physical enough to contend with the Georgia d-line if Ekiyor is not available. The only real question mark is at right tackle. Whoever starts at right tackle, the Crimson Tide will scheme around weaknesses.
The other reason to not worry about Crimson Tide injuries is that Georgia is not built to take advantage of them. Unless Kirby Smart revamps his defense, the Bulldogs are not strong at rushing the passer from the edge. They prefer to get an interior push and rush no more than four. When they blitzed the Tide in the first game, they were somewhat effective doing it, but could not take down Bryce Young.
The other issue for the Dawgs is their secondary has coverage problems. No John Metchie is a lost weapon for Bill O’Brien, but O’Brien has other options. Against Cincinnati, Jameson Williams showed he is more than an explosive threat, he can be a possession receiver as well. With Slade Bolden, Brooks, Cameron Latu, Jahleel Billingsley and possibly others, Bryce Young has plenty of capable receivers to compliment Williams. Despite the loss of Metchie, with the ball coming out fast, Georgia will again struggle to slow the Tide’s passing game.
Two things are assured for the National Championship game. Even with some backups as starters, Nick Saban will field the most talented team AND Kirby Smart will never outcoach Saban.