How the Tide changed
Georgia looks more like Alabama of old
Georgia’s defense throttles opposing running backs, boasting a deep and formidable front, playmaking linebackers and star defensive backs. The offense has a solid running game and a quarterback who seldom makes big mistakes.
The third- ranked Bulldogs, in fact, look more like vintage Alabama than Alabama these days.
The second- ranked Crimson Tide enters Saturday night for a Southeastern Conference game with a soaring passing game and a defense that is much more generous than in the “old” days, circa 2013. Georgia is more old- school.
“I would agree they’re a little more like the old Alabama way, a little more grind it out,” said Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin, who helped transform the Tide into a more explosive, passhappy offense starting in 2014. “Not as explosive. Then play
The similarities are no coincidence, of course. Georgia coach Kirby Smart was defensive coordinator for four Alabama national championship teams and some of the most dominant defenses in recent memory.
But Saban has pivoted from his old ways and built championshipcaliber teams employing a much different formula emphasizing tempo and downfield passing more while the defense suffers partly as a result.
Alabama also leads Football Bowl Subdivision in scoring offense at 51 points per game.
Georgia, by contrast, has FBS’ top run defense and yield’s the second- fewest points per game at 12.3. That’s about a quarter’s work for Alabama so far.
“There’s some similarities” to those Tide defenses, Saban said Thursday night on his radio show. “I think they’ve progressed and they do some things that are a little more unique than what we did back in that time, because it’s been about five years ago.
“But we had those kind of players on defense. And we did a lot of the same basic things. I think they’ve added some things, especially on third down, that have been very effective for them.”
Smart has faced potent Alabama offenses in the January 2018 national championship — an overtime Tide win — and the SEC title game later that year. Alabama rallied to win that one, 35- 28, with Jalen Hurts replacing an injured Heisman Trophy finalist Tua Tagovailoa.
“I feel like the last two times we’ve played [ Alabama], they were scoring that many points,” Smart said. “The time we played them with Tua, we went into the game thinking they may score a thousand.”
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones throws a 3- yard touchdown pass to tight end Miller Forristall in the second half of the Crimson Tide’s 63- 48 win last Saturday in Oxford, Miss.