Saturday’s SEC Championship will feature current and future NFL talent all over the field, as well as coaching star power. It’s been highly debated whether or not Georgia has more overall talent. Bacarri Rambo certainly thinks Georgia does, and it’s hard to argue with him.
So, let’s take a gander at a comparison of each team’s units below:
AJ McCarron, Alabama: 178 of 265 for 2,507 yards, 25 TDs, 2 INTs
Aaron Murray, Georgia: 213 of 320 for 3,201 yards, 30 TDs, 7 INTs
Buzz: What a loaded comparison. Murray has more tools and probably more upside than McCarron, but the Bama signal caller has a national championship sitting in his trophy case, while Murray has only two Eastern Division championships. Quarterback play will be crucial, and Murray and McCarron enter Atlanta leading the country in passing efficiency with 177.15 and 176.26 respectively. Murray, however, will have to attack the Bama secondary and make plays down the field.
Eddie Lacy, Alabama: 164 carries, 1,001 yards, 14 TDs
TJ Yeldon, Alabama: 129 carries, 847 yards, 10 TDs
Todd Gurley, Georgia: 176 carries, 1,138 yards, 14 TDs
Keith Marshall, Georgia: 107 carries, 720 yards, 8 TDs
Buzz: Aren’t we in for a treat with these four running backs? Both teams are stacked on the depth chart for years to come. Oddly enough, Georgia’s duo has rushed for only 10 more yards than Bama’s duo. That’s eerily close for a 12-game schedule. Gurley is the premier running back in the SEC as a freshman. But Lacy has experience, and he’s a tough-nosed runner needed in this championship game to run through a road-grading offensive line. I like the combination of Bama’s backs and the offensive line.
Running Back Edge: Georgia
Running Game Edge: Alabama
Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
Kenariouos Gates, OT, Georgia
Buzz: The big uglies rarely get the attention and praise they deserve, but Bama’s line has gotten all the respect. And while it’s warranted, because they have been fantastic, you can’t discount the play that Georgia’s offensive line has put together this season. They were an underrated bunch that some described as “patchwork” during preseason. For as much pub as Bama’s line gets, Georgia’s line only allowed two more sacks on the season – 22 to 20. But the Tide are second in the SEC in rushing and have given up the four fewest sacks in the SEC.
NT John Jenkins, Georgia
NT Jesse Williams, Alabama
Buzz: Oddly enough, both defenses run 3-4 schemes, and one of Todd Grantham’s mentors is Nick Saban. Therefore, both teams rely on their defensive linemen to clog the gaps in the middle in order to free up linebackers who actually make more plays. Georgia features defensive tackle John Jenkins, while Bama has Jesse Williams. Both seniors are slated to play on Sundays next season. Georgia’s loss of Abry Jones as an impact player will be felt in this game. Neither team features an overly dominant pass rusher along the defensive line.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: 10.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, 6 forced fumbles
CJ Mosley, MLB, Alabama: 4.0 sacks, 6.0 tackles for loss
Buzz: Jarvis Jones is the most highly touted linebacker entering Saturday with his nasty sack and tackle for loss numbers. He’s battled some health issues throughout the season. However, I’m not so sure that Jones is even the best linebacker on his team. He’s certainly not the most athletic, because that belongs to Alec Ogletree. Ogletree missed four games and still leads the team in tackles. He’s a hawse. CJ Mosley is the leader for the Bama linebacking corps, and he combines with Adrian Hubbard and Nico Johnson to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. With that being said, Georgia’s linebackers have more talent and better overall numbers.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: 16 pass breakups, 2 INTs
Shawn Williams, SS, Georgia: 78 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack
Buzz: Alabama’s secondary looks better on paper, but they were exposed against LSU and Texas A&M through the air. Experienced players Dee Milliner and safety Robert Lester combined with Vinnie Sunseri and Deon Belue to replace three starters on one of the nastiest defenses ever in college football. However, the Georgia safety combo of Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo, along with corners Sanders Commings and Damian Swann, make the Bulldogs’ secondary the better unit of the two teams. Swann has fit nicely into the second corner spot with the three senior leaders. Williams and Rambo are future NFL players.
Buzz: The one big advantage Alabama does have across the board is on special teams. The Tide have been much better on special teams in punting, kick off return and punt returns throughout the season. Georgia starts two freshmen – Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber – at punter and kicker. This game will be about field position, and Alabama has certainly done a better job to this point. Defense and special teams wins championship games. We can point to last year when Tyrann Matheiu housed the punt return against Georgia, and the rout was on. The special teams game is often overlooked, and Alabama has the big advantage here.
Nick Saban, Alabama
Mark Richt, Georgia
Buzz: Nick Saban and Mark Richt are almost polar opposites. Richt is guarded when talking to the media, not laying much out there and quick to keep his personal life private, while Saban puts it all out there and not afraid to really speak his mind. Richt has won two SEC Championships in ‘02 and ’05. Saban has won three SEC Championships in ‘01, ’05 and ’09, to go along with his three national championships in ’03, ’09 and ’11. I like Richt and think he’s a fantastic coach, but Saban is the best coach in college football and one of the all-time greats.
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE