CFB offenses have evolved, causing defenses to adjust both scheme and personnel. Georgia’s defense, under Kirby Smart, is a bit of a throwback. It is more like the Alabama Football defenses in 2016 and 2017, when the physical domination of a defensive front could control games.
Against almost every team in college football that still works. Georgia’s dominating defense in 2021 has been built around winning most battles on the line of scrimmage. The weakness in such a defensive approach is what happens when the players are stretched laterally and vertically. As a game progresses, chasing tires large body defenders and they become less effective.
Making a lateral and verticle offense successful requires skilled players and speed. And most of all, it requires a cagy quarterback, able to make quick and correct reads and deliver the football quickly. No quarterback in college football is better at that than Bryce Young. Young, playing in rhythm, surrounded by the Crimson Tide’s offensive weapons is not unstoppable, but he may well be unbeatable.
Not far behind games and recruiting, as fun for Alabama football fans, is bashing Crimson Tide Coordinators. Bill O’Brien has been a ‘bashee’ for most of this season. That quickly changed with O’Brien’s dissecting of Kirby Smart’s defense in the SEC Championship game. What some had called one of college football’s best defenses – ever, was torched for 536 yards.
Admittedly the Crimson Tide offense is somewhat weakened without John Metchie III. The hole left by Metchie’s injury will not be filled by one guy, even though against Cincinnati, Jameson Williams showed he can be a possession receiver as well as being explosive going deep.
The other tool O’Brien and Young are comfortable using is tempo. With occasional exceptions, the Alabama offense is comfortable going fast. Beyond catching the Georgia defense misaligned, the double advantages of using tempo are restricting Georgia’s defensive substitutions and tiring the Bulldogs’ starters.
In the SEC Championship game, these tactics effectively made Jordan Davis an average player. Davis had four tackles but he was not a disrupter of the Alabama offense.
Georgia’s defensive brain trust, led by Smart will make adjustments from lessons learned in the one-sided loss to the Tide. Maybe he will take a fast inside linebacker and use him on the edge, trying to get to Young. Any added pressure might be worth the risk, but it will make the Georgia secondary more vulnerable. Missed assignments were a problem for the Dawgs in the first game. Taking more chances increases the risk of more mistakes.
Whatever the changes, the Bulldogs will be forced to play aggressively on defense. Georgia cannot beat Alabama in a shootout.
Alabama football fans would love for Smart to engage in calling some offensive plays. His fourth-down calls against the Crimson Tide are legendary.