Two indelible aspects of the SEC Championship Game were the play of Alabama QB Jalen Hurts, and Georgia’s fake punt attempt that was stuffed near midfield.
SEC Network host Paul Finebaum discussed both during his regular weekly visit with Birmingham-based WJOX 94.5 FM program “The Roundtable” and said that it comes down to which side of the Alabama-Georgia border you live on. The play was a fourth down and 11 at midfield with the score tied at 28 and a little more than three minutes remaining in the game. Georgia called a fake punt run with backup QB Justin Fields that was stopped well short of the first down marker.
“If you’re in Georgia right now, you’re in a state of bewilderment,” Finebaum said. “We don’t have to all talk about how much we like Kirby, he’s a great coach. But that is easily one of the dumbest decisions I have ever seen in college football history, and there’s just no explaining it, and he did not explain it very well. His explanation was terribly flawed too, because instead of just owning it as any responsible head coach would have done, he threw his players under the bus.”
Smart’s post-game explanation claimed that Georgia’s had the play in its arsenal all season.
“We have been carrying that, actually carried it last year, thought it was there today,” Smart said. “We were going to snap it, snap the ball quick and it took too long to snap the ball. They didn’t have a guy covered, we had a guy wide open. We took so long to snap it, they ended up recognizing it and got the guy covered late.
“It was 20-30 yards of field position and we tried to win the game. I talked to the guys about it before the game. If we have an opportunity to run it, we are going to run it. It was there, just didn’t get it snapped before they covered a guy.”
Finebaum wasn’t the only one to take Smart to task about the decision. Many Georgia fans and even ESPN host Rece Davis immediately weighed in.
Davis tweeted, “As great as the Alabama comeback was, dumb loses more than smart wins. That fake punt call was an inexplicable error in judgment. That wasn’t aggressive. It was reckless.”