Alabama Football: Another chess game matchup Monday night

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Between the roster for Alabama football and the Georgia Bulldogs, neither team has a decided talent advantage. The Crimson Tide is slightly weaker than it would be because of injuries, especially with the losses of John Metchie III, Josh Jobe and likely Jalyn Armour-Davis. Even without those key injuries, some national, college football pundits think the Bulldogs have a slight talent advantage. Kirby Smart’s stockpiling of talent in the previous three recruiting cycles has paid off.

If talent will not be a major determinant in the game’s outcome, what is left? Preparation is always a key component. Both teams will have prepared well. Luck can often tip the scales in a close game but is impossible to predict. What is left is execution. Players decide games. The players who have been prepared with the best game plan, and coaches making the best in-game adjustments, will most likely determine college football’s next National Championship.

Call it a chess match, if you will, though the only apt comparison is the ‘speed chess’ version of the game. The coaching staffs have had more than ample time to prepare. In the first place, the two teams played a month ago. But, both staffs have been scouting Monday’s opponent all season. Alabama Football may have a small edge in game preparation. Much of the Crimson’s Tide time leading up to the semi-final game was not spent on Cincinnati.

As it does every season, Nick Saban and his coaches used the time to scout themselves. Advance analysis and game planning were also done on both Michigan and Georgia. The Bulldogs, after being shocked in the SEC Championship game, no doubt self-scouted as well. But their semi-final game needed more attention than did the Tide’s semi-final.

More changes will be required of the Bulldogs than will be of the Crimson Tide. Georgia’s eight quarterback hurries were not enough in the first game. Even without any sacks, those hurries might have been enough had Bryce Young not made frequently correct pre-snap reads and creative post-snap decisions. If the Bulldogs cannot bring enough pressure to keep Young unsettled, the Tide offense will prosper again. If Bryce has time to set his feet and step into his throws, the Tide will light up the Dawgs through the air.

Keeping the Alabama Football Offense off the field

One way to help the Dawgs’ defense is to lessen the risk of them tiring in the second half. Lengthening their offensive possessions with a more effective rushing attack could shorten the game. The Bulldogs’ running backs rushed for 97 yards in the last game but had only 22 carries from their trio. Georgia won the time of possession battle in the last game, but that was negated by the Tide’s explosive plays. In order to grind up clock Monday night, Georgia must improve on its (3-for-12) third-down efficiency.

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Kirby Smart and his staff must know they can’t afford to get behind early. If the Tide gets an early two-score lead, it will be very difficult for the Dawgs to overcome it. That being the case, whatever changes Georgia makes in pressuring Bryce Young, will be seen early.