Alabama Football: A key gut-check matchup against the Dawgs

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

The Dawgs that Alabama Football will play on Saturday are not the Bulldogs of past seasons. Which does not mean they are not very good. At this point in the season, Georgia is college football’s best team. The difference this season is Georgia has a more explosive passing offense and has become less dependent on its running game.

Even so, a key to the Crimson Tide winning on Saturday will be containing Georgia’s best rushing weapon, Kendall Milton. Milton is not Georgia’s leading rusher. With 49 more carries than Milton, Daijun Edwards leads the Dawgs with 780 rushing yards. But Milton has the better per-carry average at 6.5 yards.

Early in the season, Milton dealt with a hamstring strain, followed by an MCL sprain. Milton has incurred nagging injuries throughout his Georgia career. Only in the last few weeks has full health so bolstered his confidence that Alabama must contain him. In his last three games, a total of 41 carries have produced 349 rushing yards. Against Ole Miss and Georgia Tech, Milton’s yard-per-carry average was a gaudy 10.48 yards. He is a big, powerful running back and he works behind one of the SEC’s most physical offensive lines.

If the Alabama Football defense can’t keep Milton and other Georgia running backs in check, Carson Beck will have frequent opportunities to burn the Crimson Tide, with play-action deep balls.

Alabama Football Defense Injury Situation

Against Auburn, neither inside linebacker, Deontae Lawson nor safety Jalen Key appeared to be near full speed. Trying to recover from injuries, neither player saw action against Kentucky or Chattanooga.

Adjusting for Key being out usually means Terrion Arnold moves to star and Malachi Moore moves to safety. Arnold is great in coverage, but Moore is more effective at star in run defense.

The other unknown for the Crimson Tide defense is the health of Jaheim Oatis. Oatis has been playing through a knee problem for much of the season. It has reduced his effectiveness and limited his snaps. He was in for only 18 plays against Auburn.

With a less than 100% Oatis, the Crimson Tide defensive line will have a major test against the Bulldogs. The Tide has a good defensive line with Tim Keenan, Justin Eboigbe and a healthy Oatis. The key backups have been Tim Smith, Jah-Marien Latham and Damon Payne. With Oatis limited, the backups have taken on key roles and Latham sometimes must play with a weight disadvantage. Just five healthy defensive linemen against Georgia is not enough depth. One option for the  SEC Championship Game is an expanded role for freshman defensive lineman, James Smith.

Does the matchup heavily favor Georgia? Not necessarily, but if the Crimson Tide offense is forced to play catchup, the Georgia offense may be able to play downhill and eat up clock.

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Note: Player stats provided by Sports Reference and