The SEC is going to continue a strong tradition of NFL wideouts come to the 2018 NFL Draft.

Calvin Ridley (Alabama), and Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) are both expected to be first or second round picks in April, while it’s expected that there will be takers for DJ Chark (LSU), Antonio Callaway (Florida), JMon Moore (Missouri), Javon Wims (Georgia) and Robert Foster (Alabama).

In 2019 the top wide receiver going is probably going to be Ole Miss’ AJ Brown, although Deebo Samuel (South Carolina), Tyrie Cleveland (Florida) and Terry Godwin (Georgia) could also create some noise if their 2018 seasons go as well as they are hoping for. In our opinion, Samuel was a Heisman contender before he got injured against Kentucky. Yes, he’s that good.

In recent years, the SEC has brought some excellent WRs to the land of the NFL, including Julio Jones (Alabama), Odell Beckham Jr (LSU), AJ Green (Georgia), Jarvis Landry (LSU), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Mike Wallace (Ole Miss), Mike Evans (Texas A&M),  and Amari Cooper (Alabama). Alshon Jeffrey (South Carolina) made an insane TD catch in Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win over New England. Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss) and Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) have both been excellent, and Malcolm Mitchell (Georgia) is maturing nicely.

Oh, and the running backs don’t need any introduction. Alvin Kamara (Tennessee) and Mark Ingram (Alabama) was one the best 1-2 running back combinations in the NFL for New Orleans, Leonard Fournette (LSU), Todd Gurley (Georgia), Derrick Henry (Alabama), Alex Collins (Arkansas) and Kenyan Drake (Miami) all ran for over 600 yards this season. Spencer Ware (LSU) will be back for the 2018 season after a 900-yard season in 2016, while Jeremy Hill (LSU) saw his season cut short by injury.

But the QBs….

But the QBs coming out of the SEC hasn’t lived up to the standard of the receivers and running backs streaming from the Southland into the Professional-Land.

We’re still laughing at the competition between JaMarcus Russell (LSU), and Johnny Manziel as to who was the biggest NFL Draft Bust. Oh, and can someone please tell me what happened to Tim Tebow? Then there’s Quincy Carter (Georgia), the third overall QB taken in 2001 who had more appetite for snorting white lines than throwing the ball over them.

And listen, we know that there are good QBs in the SEC out there. Matt Stafford (Georgia) is killing it in Detroit, Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) is the man-of-the-moment in Dallas, Cam Newton (Auburn) is Superman in Carolina, and Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) might be Miami’s future if he remains uninjured. Oh, and Eli Manning (Ole Miss) has won two Super Bowls for the New York Giants, but when is the SEC going to see another first round-pick quarterback?

This year certainly won’t be it. But in 2018, Missouri’s Drew Lock will certainly have the chins wagging as a probably first rounder – even if the Tigers are terrible.

Why can’t LSU compete for a National Championship?

Six seasons without competing for a National Championship or being remotely close to a SEC Championship for LSU fans. Offensive coordinator experiments haven’t worked out, quarterbacks are out, and Les Miles is out.

For us, the major factor has been quarterbacking.

Formerly a quarterback factory (Matty Mauck, Matt Flynn, Jamarcus Russell) LSU hasn’t had a good quarterback since the heydays of Matt Mauck, Matt Flynn and Jamarcus Russell. Jarrett Lee hardly set the world alight, Jordan Jefferson managed four years at LSU with a quarterback rating of 58.6 (that’s how bad the situation was), Zach Mettenberger had a cannon but continued to be injured, and Brandon Harris went from being part of Bruce Feldman’s book “The QB”, 2nd-ranked QB in the country out of high school, to sucking so much that he went to UNC. Oh, and Anthony Jennings was laughably bad, and Danny Etling was steady but didn’t get over the 60% completion percentage through his career. He was a safe pair of hands….but he just wasn’t very good. Maybe Myles Brennan will be the answer. Brennan was one of the nation’s best QBs coming out of high school (No.6 pro-style QB, according to ESPN), but we won’t be holding our breath.

But while we loved ‘The Cat In The Hat’, a lot of the problems for LSU at quarterback has to go on Les Miles’ hiring of offensive coordinators, which has been shambolic (for want of a more NSFW word) at best.

Ater Jimbo Fisher left, Les Miles couldn’t find another good offensive coordinator. Gary Crowton went from ‘razzle dazzle’ to damp squib (he left for Maryland in 2010), Greg Studrawa was a good offensive line coach but not OC, and Cam Cameron’s offensive ideas completely petered out – mainly because LSU couldn’t seem to coach a quarterback. Les Miles could find a good QB coach, or keep one. In 2016, Joe Alleva and Ed Orgeron hired Matt Canada. And it was an awful experiment, capped off by a loss to Notre Dame. The quarterbacking all season had been dreadful – and so had the offense. Canada’s offense averaged 56th nationally over the last two years. LSU was 39th in 2014-5 too. Eesh.

Having said that, the blame for 2017 goes to the feet of Ed Orgeron.

While the loss to Alabama was pretty expected, getting nearly embarrassed by Syracuse, getting carpet-bombed by Mississippi State (and looking terrible and undisciplined in the process), and becoming the butt of many anti-SEC jokes by losing at home to Troy. Sure, there was a great second-half performance against Auburn, and deserved wins over Texas A&M and Arkansas, but the offense wasn’t good all season long – highlighted by one of the worst games you’ll see an offense play (in victory!) at Florida. 2018 doesn’t look a whole lot better with Orgeron’s hiring of former tight ends Steve Ensminger – when there were a lot of good OCs still out to make permanent. Anyway, we still don’t understand the hiring. I mean, it’s not as bad as Arizona State’s hiring of Herm Edwards, but it seems pretty close.

Will Ensminger’s hiring help LSU get under the Alabama cloud? Alabama – under former LSU head coach Nick Saban, no less – has owned LSU recently, beating the Tigers each time in the last seven meetings – and nine out of the last 11. We think Alabama’s hiring of Mike Locksley from their staff is a much safer bet than ‘Ensie’.

Listen, it’s not as though LSU doesn’t have NFL talent. It seems as though that if you’re good at LSU, you’re going to the NFL. It’s hardly like North Texas. 42 LSU players made it onto NFL rosters in 2017. Some are legit stars (Odell Beckham Jr, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Jarvis Landry, Leonard Fournette) and some are excellent on special teams (punter Brad Wing), and some are bit-part players. Ricky Jean-Francois (Patriots) and Jalen Mills (Eagles) are going to the Super Bowl.

The problem for LSU? The fact that LSU churns out NFL talent faster than any roster in college football – playmaker DJ Chark has gotten through his four years at LSU, but exiting as juniors (as well as Guice) will be Donte Jackson, Arden Key, Kevin Tolliver, Will Clapp and Toby Weathersby. But unlike Alabama, LSU doesn’t have the depth now to compete.

The lack of depth goes on to hit LSU’s future, and that it turn hits recruiting, too. Why? High schoolers simply don’t want to be a part of a medicore program. In 2018, LSU’s 12th overall and only 4th in the SEC, sliding from 7th nationally in 2017 and 2nd nationally in 2016. And with Georgia and Texas A&M now coming on strong (expect the Aggies to recruit well in 2019 under new coach Jimbo Fisher), it’s going to be difficult for the Tigers.

But with all of this, it still comes back to coaching. Coach Orgeron is instantly likeable and a fantastic motivator. He was loved as an interim head coach at USC and in Death Valley. But can he coach? If you look at his head coaching record, then no. It’s medicore at best, going 31-33 with one bowl record. He failed at Ole Miss, and he hasn’t exactly set the world alight in Louisiana either.

Sadly for LSU, I don’t see it improving in 2018 with Ensminger as the OC and more’s the case, Ed Orgeron.

 

 

Who are the SEC players to watch out for in 2018?

Regardless of what the pro-SEC fans say, a lot of stars left the conference in 2017. Just from the National Championship Game, Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), and Roquan Smith (Georgia) are gone in their junior years, while Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (Georgia) departed after four years. The bigs are gone too, with ‘Big’ Bo Scarborough (Alabama) and Da’Ron Payne (Alabama) departing for NFL riches.

But that’s not all. From Auburn Kerryon Johnson and Kam Pettway are off, while at LSU Derrius Guice, Arden Key, Kevin Tolliver and Donte Jackson leave. For Texas A&M, the most exciting player in college football – Christian Kirk – is going to take his returning talents to the pros.

But despite the amount of heroes going to the NFL, there are more heroes that are going to come along. And yes, we know that we have mentioned five-star recruits that are going to start this year, but they could be arrested/dismissed/suspended before the season starts, so we’re not counting our chickens.

Here are our Top 12/13 (in no particular order):

  1. Drew Lock (Missouri): Lock exploded under OC Josh Heupel, passing for a breathtaking 3,339 yards and 23 TDs. In fact, he was the only QB to cause Georgia’s DB trouble all season long, and we’re expecting great things from him in 2018 – especially with a lot of pressure on him from NFL Draft ‘experts’ who expect him to go in the Top 5 in 2019. His only problem(s) could be his wide receivers not being able to catch, and new OC Derek Dooley (we still don’t understand why Barry Odom passed on former UCLA OC Jedd Fisch).
  2. Deebo Samuel (South Carolina): The most explosive, exciting player in the SEC last year – until he was injured. He can return punts, run the ball and receive throws, and he’ll rip a team’s defenses apart if they don’t watch out for him. He’s the next Christian Kirk and potentially the SEC’s answer to Christian McCafffery.
  3. AJ Brown (Ole Miss): Brown is going to be one of the greats of Ole Miss when he’s done with his career in Oxford. In a freakish sophomore year, Brown had 1,252 yards receiving and 11 TDs. We expect many more things from this exciting player come 2018.
  4. Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama): One amazing half of National Championship may not a starting QB at Alabama make, but Tua, with his strong arm and ability to move around in the pocket, is already prepped to Alabama’s next throwing star. Don’t get us wrong, Jalen Hurts could get his job back and slice up defenses with his legs (and he could also be extremely useful on trick plays), but now the starting Bama job is Tagovailoa’s to lose.
  5. D’Andre Swift (Georgia): Swift had 771 yards and 4 TDs for the Dawgs, and now Chubb and Michel have gone to the NFL, Swift will be the No.1 running back. Expect him to get 1,000.
  6. Jarrett Stidham (Auburn): If Stidham can play as well as he did against Georgia (Game 1) and Alabama, then he’ll be one of the biggest stars in the conference. He’s got good legs, a great arm, and we think Stidham could flourish.
  7. Nick Fitzpatrick (Mississippi State): Before he was injured against Ole Miss, Nick Fitzgerald was phenomenal for the Bulldogs. Statistically, he may have had a worse year than he did in 2015 last year, but he still had SIX rushing games of over 100 yards. We expect him to flourish in Joe Moorhead’s offense. Moorhead’s great with mobile QBs – just as Penn State’s Trace McSorley.
  8. Damien Harris/Najee Harris (Alabama): Harris’ decision to return for 2018 is a fantastic one – he’ll be vying with Stanford’s Bryce Love as the best RB in the country. He had 1,000 yards and 11 TDs this year, and we expect excellent things next year too. As part of the two-headed monster, Najee Harris has the speed to match Damien’s brawn, while is going to be great for Nick Saban and his new offensive co-ordinator.
  9. Jake Fromm (Georgia): Fromm’s going to go from ‘game manager’ to ‘star’ in Athens – particularly when Kirby Smart lets him throw the ball more.
  10. Tyrel Dodson (Texas A&M): As much fun as we’ve made of the Aggies’ ‘D’ in the past, there’s no denying what a star Dodson was in his second year. The freakish linebacker had 104 tackles and 3 INTs, and he could break out as the next Myles Garrett.
  11. Kyle Shurmur (Vanderbilt): You might make a lot of fun out of me for including a Vanderbilt player, but hear us out. As terrible as Vandy was in the SEC (their only win came over Tennessee), Shurmur still managed to throw for 2,823 yards and 26 TDs. It may not have lit up the scoreboards, but he’s proved himself a leader on the team. If he remains hot, there could be NFL discussions.
  12. Aeris Williams (Mississippi State): We didn’t consider Williams until we saw his numbers for this year, and then felt guilty. The sophomore RB reminded coaches of Le’Veon Bell with his running style, and made a lot of Cowbellers happy with his 1,107 yard, 6 TD performance – as well as 142 yards receiving. Expect him with better numbers under Moorehead.

Also considered: David Reese (Florida), Malik Davis (Florida), Mecole Hardman (Georgia), Traeyvon Williams (Texas A&M), Devwah Whaley (Arkansas), DeMarkus Lodge (Ole Miss), Javon Wims (Georgia), Emmanuel Hall (Missouri).

Georgia star Roquan Smith declares for NFL

Georgia star linebacker Roquan Smith has declared for the NFL.

Unlike other SEC stars like Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick and LSU’s Derrius Guice and Arden Key, Smith’s decision took until the deadline day for him to make up his mind.

Smith said: “I’ve had discussions with coaches and family and a lot of thought and prayer….The decision to leave is not easy but I know it is the right one.”

Smith won the Butkus Award last season for the Dawgs, who won the SEC Championship and came within overtime of winning the National Championship.

He will definitely be a first-round pick.

Smith recorded 137 tackles, 6-1/2 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries. He was also a mainstay in the Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma, when at times he buried the Sooners’ attack in the second half all by himself.

Kirby Smart said about Smith: “The accolades he has received are a testimony to his ability as a player,” Smart said. “But he has also demonstrated on and off the field the qualities of a great leader who has commanded the respect of all his teammates as well as our coaching and support staffs. As the head coach, it’s been a privilege to see him develop as a student-athlete and inspirational leader who has made immeasurable contributions to our team and to the program we are building.

Suddenly Alabama has two big, big staff openings…

Every year, it seems that Alabama’s looking for a big-time co-ordinator to go and work under Nick Saban.

But this year, it’s both of them.

After DC Jeremy Pruitt took the Tennessee job in November (but stayed all the way through the National Championship win), the Buffalo Bills announced Sunday that Crimson Tide OC Brian Daboll had been appointed to the same job in New York state.

While finding a good OC and DC shouldn’t be a problem for Saban – he’s managed to find competent people at both positions throughout his time in Tuscaloosa, it’s probably not good for recruiting – something that Nick Saban seems to crave more than winning Championships.

Some of the things that Saban can sell potential candidates are these:

  1. Depth: Alabama is deep at almost every position. A new star has been discovered at quarterback in Tua Tagovaiola, but he’ll have to battle a still-dependable Jalen Hurts. The offensive line and running back is seasoned. The wide receivers turn out prodigy after prodigy. On the defense, although Minkah Fitzpatrick is gone, things are fine.
  2. Pay: Not many people pay co-ordinators as well as Alabama. Brian Daboll was paid $1.2 million per year, while Pruitt was paid $4.2 million in 2017 before he left for Knoxville. That’s better than most coordinators. In other words, if you win for him, Saban will make sure you’re well-rewarded.
  3. Job Mobility: If you’re successful at Alabama, teams from the NFL and from colleges will come at you thick and fast to offer head coaching positions or NFL positions of similar titles. Saban’s not stupid: He knows that OCs and DCs of his will know that they aren’t going to be ‘coaches in waiting’, so they’ll get offers from other schools after one or two years, so he can definitely tell them that success with the Crimson Tide job will make them a strong candidate elsewhere. And if it doesn’t work out ‘elsewhere’, then that’s on them.
  4. Facilities: Alabama’s facilities for their players are the best in the land. So no OC and DC can complain they aren’t getting enough.
  5. Saban himself: You’ll probably hate working for him at the time, but there won’t be a guy that will teach you more about getting finite details right. If you’re prepared to learn, come to Alabama.

The sad thing for any OC and DC is the pressure. There’s the pressure to win National Championships immediately. There’s the pressure to get everything right all the time from Saban. There are time demands – Nick Saban owns your behind. Oh, and then there’s the Alabama fans, who are – in a new dimension of football fan – downright crazy.

LSU’s Guice goes, Alabama loses 3 to draft, but big-time RB stays

Top Alabama running back Damien Harris has said that he will return to Tuscaloosa for his final year of eligibility, stemming a ‘tide’ of players leaving for the NFL Draft.

Harris posted seasons of 1,000 yards in 2016 and 2017, and odds-on are that he will post another one in 2018 – although you can expect freshman sensation Najee Harris to take some of the load as well.

Running back teammate Bo Scarbourgh – who ironically could have been the top player in his position at just about anywhere in the land had it not been for Nick Saban’s policy of keeping his backfield fresh in terms of touches – has declared for the NFL Draft. ‘Big Bo’ battled injuries throughout his career with the Tide, and it may well make him a third-round pick come NFL Draft time.

Also declaring will be top wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who caught the game-tying touchdown pass in the National Championship Game, as well as defensive tackle D’Ron Payne, who was famous for his two plays against Clemson in the semi-final.

Having been thoroughly prepared for that next step,” Ridley said, “I am truly ready.” 

Meanwhile in Baton Rouge, top running back Derrius Guice has declared for the NFL Draft. A lot of SEC West teams will be glad to see the back of Guice, who ran for 1,251 yards and 11 TDs in his junior year.

 

 

Missouri QB Drew Lock to stay for senior year

Despite having his offensive co-ordinator replaced, Missouri QB Drew Lock has opted to stay for his senior year in Columbia.

“I’m very excited about coming back for my senior year, and I’m really optimistic about we can do as a team next year,” Lock said.

Lock threw for 3,964 yards and 44 TDs last season.

As we mentioned, Lock will have to play for a new OC, though….and a strange decision for one at that. Missouri decided that they would opt out of getting former UCLA OC Jedd Fisch and instead get former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.

To say the least, the fanbase weren’t too happy with Barry Odom’s decision – but they’ll be happier about Lock’s.

UGA’s Eason to transfer to Washington?

Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason is to transfer to Washington, various media sources have reported.

Eason, who was the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs on Week 1 before he was injured against Applachian State, never got his role back thanks to the immense play of freshman Jake Fromm.

Now that Georgia has signed five-star QB Justin Fields, Eason – himself a five-star QB out of Washington – must have felt that there was no opportunity for him to succeed in the red and black. A move to Washington isn’t a bad one for him, either. He’s from Lake Stevens, WA, which is a short car ride from UW’s campus.

In 2016 Eason threw for 2,430 yards and 16 TDs, averaging at 186.7 yards/game.

 

Refs, Freshmen, and Saban: 20 Goods and bads from the National Championship Game

hat Some people in Tuscaloosa are still up and drunk. Some people in Athens have kicked their wall, door and probably the cat. But whatever you have done, Alabama is the 2018 National Champion.

But not everyone on Alabama had a great day, and not everyone on Georgia had a bad one.

So here are your good days/bad days from yesterday….

GOOD DAY

  1. Tua Tagovailoa: Came on in the second half in the place of an awful Jalen Hurts and immediately put UGA’s defense on its heels with some bullet throws. Threw the game-winning TD that looked identical to the one Todd Blackledge threw against Georgia in the 1982 National Championship Game.
  2. Sony Michel: His 98 yards on 14 carries (that’s 7 yards a clip) at times embarrassed Alabama’s defense, and made him a lot more money when the NFL Draft comes alone. We are still wondering why in the hell Jim Chaney didn’t play him in the fourth quarter.
  3. Nick Saban: Had half a good game and still won the National Championship. Oh, and his recruiting showed how good he was, since Tua, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith are all freshmen.
  4. The Ridley family: Calvin Ridley did nothing until catching the game-tying TD with a minute left, while Riley Ridley, his younger brother was fantastic. Kay Daniels, their 49-year old single mother, is going to get to retire after these two hit the NFL.
  5. Freshmen: We’ve mentioned three of the Alabama freshmen, but how about also mentioning Georgia’s Jake Fromm, two-TD speedster Mecole Hardman two?
  6. Roquan Smith: The UGA Butkus Award winner-soon-to-be-legend led the game 13 total tackles including 9 solo tackles. Mack Wilson of Alabama was impressive too with 12 tackles (7 solo).
  7. Kirby Smart: In his second year Georgia played for a National Championship. Not bad, Kirby. Not bad at all. We think we’ll see you here again soon.
  8. Alabama (second half): After an awful first half, Saban made the adjustments, came back beautifully, and silenced the home support. At times, it was relentless and the reason why everyone thought that Alabama would win the National Championship this year. But not in this dramatic manner….
  9. Rodrigo Blankenship: GLASSES KICKER WAS PERFECT!
  10. The SEC: Yeah, so our conference was down. But two of the best teams combined for one of the best games of the season and one of the greatest National Championship of all-time. So suck it, B1G!!

BAD DAY FOR…

  1. The refs: It was like the B1G was getting their own back for Ohio State not getting in the play-off. Their refs were awful – so much so that they looked like SEC refs. Not only did they miss numerous horsecollars and facemasks, but they also missed a false start on the tying TD. They also missed late hits, holding, and numerous other things – including Hardman’s heel blatantly (after replay) touching the line. The most irritating part of it? The ref at the start of the game and at overtime making long, drawn-out speeches in an effort to put himself in the spotlight. Can we have Ed Hochuli for these big games please?
  2. Jalen Hurts: Remember when we said that Hurts would be a problem for the Tide if he threw the ball? We were right. Hurts was TERRIBLE, overthrowing Calvin Ridley easily in the first quarter when there was a sure TD and going 3-8 for just 21 yards in the first half. Urgh.
  3. Malkom Parrish: Got targeted and torched all day long by Alabama QBs, even if a lot of the throws weren’t great. He will get a lot of the blame from UGA fans, but they probably won’t see him after this year. He was beaten like he stole something. He’ll be replaced by Ryan Gosling’s character in ‘Remember The Titans’.
  4. Jim Chaney: Went waaay too conversative in the second half and pretty much gifted the initiative to Alabama. Also, we still don’t understand why Sony Michel never had a touch in the fourth quarter – despite causing the Tide trouble all night long – and Nick Chubb (who didn’t seem to grind down the Tide’s front) held the ball not only for OT but the drive leading up to it.
  5. Andy Pappanastos: Word has it that the Alabama kicker is still walking from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban can’t take imperfection.
  6. Mekhi Brown: Fighting one of the assistants on the sideline really isn’t a good look. He may have been very contrite afterwards, but he made an ass of himself. Oh, and his horror clothesline on Sony Michel should have gotten him a 15-yard penalty, too.
  7. Georgia coverage for the game-winning TD: Dominik Sanders got fooled, and Parrish went wandering. Why be so aggressive on 2nd and 26 with a kicker who’s last kick nearly nailed someone on the sideline? As much as Tua’s throw will go into Alabama lore, it really wasn’t a difficult throw to make.
  8. Nick Chubb: After all the highlights and talk, Chubb didn’t really manage to get anything against the Alabama front, running 18 times for 25 yards with a long of just 7. Sure, he’ll make money come Draft time, but Michel really shone when he didn’t.
  9. Javon Wims: It was actually a poor day for Wims even before he made his catch. He dropped two easy throws from Fromm…and then injured his shoulder which ensured that the Bulldogs lost a huge weapon.
  10. Mercedes-Benz Stadium/ Ticket holders: Locked out of the entrances because of Donald Trump’s motorcade (he left at half-time after creating the maximum possible disruption), fans missed kick-off, fought each other, and were generally really pissed off. Oh, and they all had to stand in the freezing rain while doing it. The only great story to come out of it was a member of the media meeting two elderly Alabama ticket holders who lost their tickets and he took them to guest services. Oh, and as for the stadium, there was a leak coming from the roof. Seriously, Atlanta?

 

Will Alabama or Georgia win the National Championship?

Suck it, Ohio State. Suck it, Clemson. Suck it, Oklahoma. The SEC’s got two teams playing in the National Championship game.

That’s right – in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium fans all over America will tune into Monday to a game they most feared: An all-SEC Natty featuring Alabama and – to less an extent – Georgia.

Listen to the pundits, and they are hoping and praying that it won’t be boring. They hope it won’t be a 9-6 slugfest. They pray that Brian Daboll or Jim Chaney will come up with some offensive invention to stop that happening. They are hoping for end-zone celebrations and while craziness. They had a lot of that in two previous National Championships – and are praying for that to happen again.

The sad thing is is: It probably won’t happen.

Both Alabama and Georgia having amazing athletes. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are the best running back duo in College Football – although Damien Harris, Bo Scarborough, Najee Harris are also great too. Alabama also has a quarterback in Jalen Hurts who can run the damned ball, too.

Alabama fans might be slightly worried about putting the game on Hurts. Although Hurts is one of the best scramblers in the game, and he led the team down the field against Mississippi State that was – retrospectively – a season-saver, he’s actually got worse in terms of completion-percentage terms from 2017 to 2016. His fumble against Clemson was only bailed out by the usual immense Alabama defensive performance (kept Clemson to 3 points). Now, it’s not that we think Jalen Hurts is a terrible quarterback by any means  – he could cause Georgia hell-on-earth with his legs, but he’s not a great thrower.

On the other side, Georgia’s Jake Fromm has been a sensation. He’s got a cool head, and by reports by students at Georgia we know, he’s a pretty humble, unassuming guy – a diametric opposite to Jacob Eason, who walked around Athens thinking he was God. Fromm has played like a leader all season long. But then again, he hasn’t faced a pass rush like Alabama’s. Has he? Oh wait, he did. In Jordan-Hare against Auburn….and had he had his worst game stats-wise for the Dawgs that day. Sure, he was better in the rematch, but this is a fresher, nastier defense than he’s faced for a while. If Georgia goes down by 14, Smart’s going to have to put the game onto Fromm’s back…..and we’re not hugely confident if he will be able to take it.

We might have outlined this, but both teams feature absolute beasts on the defensive side of the ball. Georgia has Roquan Smith, the Butkus Award winner who’s a beast.Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter – who blocked the kick in overtime in the Rose Bowl – is an immensely-talented tackler, and so’s David ‘Humble Yourself’ Bellamy and Jordan Ledbetter. If Bellamy gets run over by Scarborough, he’ll be humbled. The Georgia players HAVE to make tackles, or it’ll be a long day.

As for Alabama, they’ve got God in the backfield in Minkah Fitzpatrick who – like Smith – is amazing. Although there’s a story going around about Fitzpatrick’s bruised kidney, which the best corner in college football/future NFL Top 5 pick dismissed as a non-story, it shouldn’t stop Fitzpatrick. Georgia’s Dominik Sanders will try and be Fitzpatrick in the Georgia secondary. We think he’ll try and play man-to-man with Calvin Ridley (good luck!). Oh, and Rashaan Evans is a freak, and Alabama has all the depth in the world to stop Georgia if there are injuries, which sadly is a sure bet in what will be a hard-hitting bet like this.

Co-ordinators wise, Jeremy Pruitt is a genius. Mel Tucker ain’t bad either (look at his defensive adjustments against Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma in the second half of the Rose Bowl). Both of them will be the busiest guys of the night – especially if they are getting their ears chewed out by Smart and Saban!

Offensive line was, it’s hard to differentiate between the two. Talk to a Georgia fan who was practically suicidal after some of the efforts of the offensive line last season, they aren’t altogether happy with this one. If you think about, Georgia has had 2 games where they have been truly tested on the offensive line, and it’s 1-1. UGA comes into the decider facing a nasty defense that could get to Fromm faster than a Daytona racecar. For Alabama, Hurts has only been sacked all season long, and you don’t see opposition defensive players in the backfield very much. There’s a good reason for that. There’s some good news for Georgia in that 6-4, 324lb Bama guard Lester Cotton won’t be playing in Atlanta after getting injured against Clemson. Cotton started all 13 games for the Tide, but we expect Nick Saban to make the changes.

So what’s going to happen?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be a war. Alabama’s a 3.5 point favourite in Vegas, and to a lot of people, that looks about right. We think Alabama wins by 7 in a game that’s close, if not really exciting. Unless you like defense. Then this will be porn

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