ATLANTA — The Georgia defense tried about every wrinkle in it’s playbook to slow down Alabama’s running game.
Georgia linebacker Michael Gilliard (35) fails bring down Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon (4) in the Bulldogs' 32-28 loss to the Crimson Tide on Saturday at the Georgia Dome. Georgia's defense gave up 350 yards rushing.
But nothing really worked and the Bulldogs were left scratching their heads in wonder as to how the Crimson Tide running backs dominated huge stretches of the second half.
“They were just running the ball,” Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “We didn’t really get off of the field. They just executed and we didn’t make enough plays. They had a couple of explosive plays. They’ve got a big o-line (offensive line). Then you’ve got to find the ball carrier. He’d be hiding behind the blockers then shoot up the sideline.”
Alabama beat Georgia 32-28 in the Southeastern Conference Championship game on Saturday at the Georgia Dome. Alabama’s rushing tandem of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon bit a monster chunk out of Georgia’s rushing defense. With so much attention focused on shoring up the rushing defense, Alabama scored its game-winning touchdown on a 45-yard pass play from AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper.
“You’ve just got to finish on the ball,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “We had plenty of guys committed to the running game. If you let guys like that get going, a play like that last play (45-yard touchdown pass) is going to happen. You’ve got to stay in your gap. When you tackle the guy, you’ve got to wrap up and finish on him. These are good players so give them credit. It was a matter of two teams getting after it. They started moving the ball there in the last drive of the second quarter and then into the third quarter. I thought our guys battled but they (Alabama) made some plays and we had a tough time.”
Alabama ran for 350 yards and three touchdowns in the game with Lacy and Yeldon inflicting most of the damage. Lacy ran 20 times for 181 yards and scored twice to take game most valuable player honors. Yeldon ran 25 times for 153 yards and another score.
“They had some good blocking schemes and they just ran better,” Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith said. “I really don’t know what happened specifically. We’re going to have to look at the film. They’ve got some great backs so you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. They’ve got great downhill backs. I’ve got a lot of respect for them.”
Alabama ran for 222 yards and two touchdowns in the second half alone. Alabama erased an 11-point deficit with two straight touchdown drives, all on the ground. Alabama scored its first touchdown of the third quarter by covering 77 yards on four straight running plays augmented by a couple of 15-yard penalties by Georgia. On its next possession Alabama went 74 yards in seven plays, all on the ground, to take a 25-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“Their offensive line was great,” Georgia defensive lineman John Jenkins said. “They’re really technically sound. (D.J.) Fluker had this little technique that I asked him about after the game. It kind of took me off-guard because nobody had ever used it on me. He used his hands and my momentum. Somehow he would drag my momentum to him and then get in front of me. They’re very technically sound and they’re all pretty much on the same page.”