Kirby Smart discusses the challenge of slowing down Alabama's running game, how that opens up the entire Tide offense
When opponents enter a game against Alabama, it’s truly a pick your poison type of gameplan.
Mac Jones is playing the best football of his career and has DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and now the emerging John Metchie, to threaten defenses with through the air.
But the key to Alabama’s offense, according to Kirby Smart, is slowing down the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, Najee Harris and Alabama’s imposing offensive line — which is bigger than just about any unit the Georgia coach has ever faced.
“(Harris) is fast, physical, receives the ball well out of the backfield — it makes it much harder to defend. It’s not just Najee, their offensive line is humungous—every guy is 330/340 and they wear on you. They lean on you,” Smart said on Tuesday evening. “It’s like Nick used to say, ‘They have weight classes in boxing and there is a reason.’ If a guy is a heavyweight and he keeps hitting a lightweight, eventually the heavyweight will knock the lightweight out and you have to have enough big guys across the line of scrimmage to withstand that.”
Of course, Smart may be downplaying the matchup in Alabama’s favor with his comment. After all, the last time we checked, the Bulldogs have some outstanding players of their own on the defensive side of the ball. Georgia’s ability to substitute and keep defenders fresh may be the key to game.
Just how important will it be to slow down Alabama’s running attack?
Smart shared his belief that the Tide’s offense revolves around Harris and the offensive line setting the tone before leading to the play-action pass.
“We feel like we are in a much better position than we have been in terms of depth, but we don’t have guys across the defensive line as big as their offensive line,” Smart continued. “The difference is we have to be able to substitute guys, play guys and try to stay fresh and try to use our depth to take those punches.
“Then we have to be able to give some punches by how we play. But Najee creates an issue because he is hard to tackle. They get him in space. If they are successful with Najee, it makes it really easy on the quarterback in terms of play-action game.”