Georgia Bulldog fans are descending on Atlanta for tomorrow’s SEC Championship Game: the fourth-ranked Bulldogs will take on top-ranked Alabama in a game that kicks off at 4 o’clock in Mercedes Benz Stadium. The Dogs are two-touchdown underdogs.
From the AJC’s DawgNation…
The Georgia Bulldogs aren’t saying much about Alabama in advance of Saturday’s SEC Championship game - and maybe that’s the best approach.
No. 4 Georgia (11-1) might view the game against the top-ranked Crimson Tide (12-0) as a chance at revenge following the 26-23 loss in the national title game in January. If it is a revenge game, the Bulldogs will never admit it, instead focusing on winning another conference title regardless of the opponent, says running back Elijah Holyfield.
“The whole year, we’ve just been trying to get back to the SEC Championship,” he said. “It wasn’t really who we played, we just wanted to get back there.”
“So I think more than anything this year, we’re just trying to focus on this game and last year’s going to have nothing to do with the next game coming up so we’re just trying to focus on that.”
Even coach Kirby Smart said last year’s loss to his mentor and Alabama coach Nick Saban isn’t motivating him.
“That's not a motivating factor for me,” Smart said. “That's not what's driving me. What's driving me is the young men in this room that will be here in a couple of hours, trying to do my best job for them, and that's what my coaching staff has to do.”
Putting Georgia in a position to be successful against Alabama will prove a more difficult task for the UGA defense as Alabama’s offense is one of the best Saban has ever coached. Led by Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama has outscored opponents 487-165 this season.
While the Bulldogs are in the best position of any team to beat Alabama this season with experience playing the Crimson Tide in a playoff game within the past year and playing against Tagovailoa and Alabama’s talented receiving corps, it’s going to be difficult for the Bulldogs on defense to go against such a high-scoring Alabama team. Offensively, Georgia will also struggle match the numbers the Tide put up with an offense that’s struggled to convert in the red zone all season against conference opponents.
Even though Georgia has experience playing Alabama in a big game last year and nearly defeating them, Smart acknowledged how easy it is for a team to be overwhelmed against a powerful, intimidating team like Alabama.
“I think the biggest thing is preparing your teams the right way to play and not getting overwhelmed by the moment,” Smart said. “If anything, I've probably seen more teams lose it in the warmups, just trying to get all amped up and all that. You gotta go play your best game. You gotta be yourself and you gotta be the best version of you, and you can't worry about the rest. A lot of those teams that I witnessed that they didn't have near as good of players as us either.”