As the kids like to say nowadays, that SEC Championship Game was "epic."
The Tide was down eleven points in the third quarter but came back to win with a number of lead changes happening in the second half. Alabama might have been up 14 to 7 at the half, but for whatever reason, Coach Saban did not call a time out with about 25 seconds to go before halftime. In the interview before he went into the locker room at the half, Saban admitted he should have called a timeout, and I'm glad that gaffe didn't affect the outcome of the game.
Eddie Lacy, MVP of the game, ran the best I think I've ever seen him run. He had 20 carries for 181 yards, and T. J. Yeldon had 25 carries for 154 yards.
At times the Crimson Tide defense looked great, and then other times they look patently mediocre--lacked an effective pass rush and had some busts in the secondary. Aaron Murray is a solid quarterback, as he showed on their final drive, but Alabama should have been able to expose Georgia's line play more and get Murray out of the pocket. He's prone to throwing interceptions once you get him moving. The Florida game showed that tendency quite clearly.
Everyone played with "pluck and grit," but special kudos go to Jesse Williams and Brandon Ivory who played hurt late in the game and stopped running back Gurley on a crucial third and short.
Then there's freshman Amari Cooper, who had 7 receptions for 127 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. With the season-ending injuries to starting wide receivers this season (DeAndrew White early in the year and Kenny Bell in the last game), Cooper has stepped up to become the number one receiver on the squad.
However, I'm concerned that McCarron needs to spread the wealth around to Kevin Norwood, Christion Jones, Cyrus Jones, Michael Williams, and the backs. Alabama hasn't passed it TE Williams enough, in my opinion, and the plays featuring the H-back have been almost non-existent in the latter part of the season. Certainly one of the factors has been Jalston Fowler also being out for the season. "The Beast," as my son and I like to call him, had an interesting role when he was available. He played fullback in the I-formation, H-back, and running back all while being an excellent blocker in pass protection.
Now for the next several weeks, we sports fans will have to suffer through the talking heads on the four-named network chattering on and on about how the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame have little chance of beating the Crimson Tide. That's, as Coach Saban likes to say, "clutter."
I haven't really watched Notre Dame much at all this season. The only game of theirs I saw was their triple overtime game versus Pitt that they should have lost. I only caught the last part of the fourth quarter and the overtimes. I also know they played Stanford very close. Other than those games, I don't know much about them other than that they have a strong defense, a game-changin LB, and a multi-dimensional quarterback. I'm worried about everything, of course.
As for the Crimson Tide, they only have ten seniors on the team: DL Quinton Dial, LB Nico Johnson, OL Barrett Jones, S Robert Lester, PK Jeremy Shelley, DL Damion Square, SN Carson Tinker, OL Chance Warmack, DL Jesse Williams, and TE Michael Williams. Before the SEC Championship, some of the Georgia players and some commentators barked about Georgia having more talent [current NFL talent] than the Crimson Tide squad.
That could be true. Alabama is a young team that might not have the most talent in the SEC (debatable), and they lost a lot of great players to the draft after last season.
But the Crimson Tide still won yesterday.
I know when they line up against Notre Dame they're going to have to play much better defense and pass the ball more effectively. It should be an interesting game.