Alabama QB Bryce Young is the Crimson Tide's best (only?) chance to beat Georgia
This is why players sign up to play for Alabama.
The SEC Championship Game will be fraught with pressure for everyone, but especially for Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young. The sophomore knew there would be days like Saturday when Bama plays No. 1 Georgia. He knew he would be asked — if not required — to lead his team to championship titles. That’s why he put in all the hard work in the offseason — to live up to that challenge. That’s why he waited for his time on the bench last season. Now, it all comes to fruition.
Young may have had his “Heisman moment” in a comeback win against Auburn last week. In a season bereft of a clear winner, Young may already have the Heisman Trophy in the bag. However, he can lock it away Saturday. He could also lose the most coveted award in college football and all of his team’s championship hopes in the course of about 4 hours in Atlanta.
It’s a team game, but it’s all on Young on Saturday. That was also the case last week against the Tigers as Young was pressured early and often. However, that was just a good defense that Bama managed to topple. Young will have to beat a historically great defense when he plays Georgia.
Alabama’s running backs may not be in a position to help Young. The bell cow of the bunch, Brian Robinson Jr., is struggling with a hamstring injury. That’s especially bad for Bama considering the running back position has been plagued by injury all season. There is no depth there. Alabama has even been forced to move players from other positions just to have enough running backs to get through practice. Robinson Jr. was the consistent performer that Bama could depend on even though he couldn’t always depend on his offensive line to produce consistent running lanes. Now, Bama’s already struggling running game is gimpy.
If the Crimson Tide can’t have a decent running presence against Georgia’s defense, then there’s even more pressure on Young. It’s worth noting that Georgia gives up just 78.9 rushing yards per game. That’s 3rd-best in the nation and tops in the SEC. Even healthy, the Tide would face a stiff test running against Jordan Davis and Co.
Young will have to be the reason Alabama upsets Georgia … if it can. It’s hard to imagine Bama winning on Saturday unless Young throws for over 300 yards with 3 TD passes. Based on the rest of this season, that won’t be easy. Young has rarely had a clean pocket to throw from against quality opponents. That’s not likely to change Saturday. Georgia is 4th in the nation with 41 sacks. That averages out to 3.5 per game. That’s a lot. With all the pressure he’ll face Saturday, Young has to be mindful of not turning the ball over via a strip-sack or an interception under duress. Turning the ball over is just the first step.
Young will have to take advantage of a strong duo of receivers: John Metchie and Jameson Williams. They are a formidable duo. Metchie is the classic possession receiver with enough speed to make long plays. However, Williams might be Young’s most valuable ally. Williams is Bama’s deep threat who forces defenses to adjust. Bama’s offense was noticeably different — and mostly inept — against Auburn last week after Williams was ejected from the game for targeting. As good as Metchie and Williams are, there’s not much proven depth behind them. Losing either in Saturday’s game would be devastating.
So this is what Young signed up for. The first step is protecting the football despite immense pressure. The second step is throwing for at least 300 yards against the nation’s No. 2 passing defense.
Oh, and a deep completion (or 5) to Williams would certainly help Alabama’s chances.
Georgia’s run defense in general, and Davis in particular, have garnered most of the attention, but the Dawgs have only allowed 5 TD passes. Nobody in America has allowed fewer. Nobody has thrown 3 TD passes in a game against them. Only 1 QB has thrown for 300 yards.
Let’s not forget that Young is also a first-year starter. Yes, I know he has played in 12 games. He’s played in high-pressure situations in which Bama’s fortunes depended on him. However, he’s never played in a game like this will all the pressure on his shoulder pads. Could Young fold? It’s certainly possible.
If Young does indeed succumb to the pressure and doesn’t play well, it might not be his fault. Based on his on-field demeanor this season, Young seems like the type of quarterback who performs when the spotlight is on. However, that doesn’t mean he’s simply going to light up the scoreboard and fill up the stat sheet against a defense like Georgia’s. The pressure that Young will face is immense. He’ll have to play extremely well behind a shaky offensive line against the best defense in the nation. Tom Brady could struggle under those circumstances.
Young seems destined to win at least an SEC Championship and likely a national title during his career. However, his biggest single-game challenge in his college career could come against the Bulldogs on Saturday. It’s all on him. He won’t mind. That’s why he signed up to play for Alabama.