Alabama scored 41 points on Georgia’s historic defense in the SEC Championship game, and 27 days after their one and only sackless performance, they’ll have to rebound against Michigan.
It was the first time this entire season that an otherwise dominant pass rush failed to choke an opposing quarterback. The Edge rushers have been freeing themselves all season, in part because of the inside defensive line.
Defensive tackles Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt and Jalen Carter demand attention in every play, leaving edge rushers in one-on-one away situations. However, Alabama introduced the plan to slow the rush.
Davis is the best defenseman on this team, but at 6-6 and 340 pounds. it is situationally limited. Georgia prefer to have him on the pitch on rushed raids or against rushed staff sets. You can keep him off the field, like Alabama did, with Tempo and formations.
On those games, Alabama pushed the ball down the field, knowing the edge rushers wouldn’t win without a dominant inside presence.
Part of that was due to Georgia missing their leading passer against outside linebacker Adam Anderson. Anderson is currently absent from the program dealing with felony rape charges that surfaced after the Florida game.
Anderson always found ways to chase the quarterback and affect the play, and without his presence Georgia struggled to find the pressure on the edge.
They allowed quarterback Bryce Young to operate with clean pockets for most of the afternoon, which didn’t yield any positive results. The Crimson Tide roamed the field with ease, thanks to some big wins in the passing game.
While Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara isn’t as talented as Young, he still plays clean football and can capitalize on clean pockets. Michigan thrives when they can run the football between tackles and then put the ball into McNamara’s tough playing action.
When the Wolverines fall back to pass, Georgia need to put pressure on the quarterback. They’ll already have loaded boxes and tight covers to stop the run, which can lead to explosive passing plays if they can’t apply pressure.
All eyes are on outside linebacker Nolan Smith II and row rusher Travon Walker. These have been two of the three main rushers this season, and they have performed well in what could be their last season in Athens.
Both are talented and have the ability to win their clashes, but they need to bounce back in a meaningful way. Alabama handled them for an entire afternoon, which took a toll on the defense as a whole. While Georgia’s defensive backs don’t blow the covers on 3rd downs when the pressure comes in at home, that would be ideal as well. So not all the pressure is on the defensive front.
They also need their depth to get into the game and make games. Defensive lineman Robert Beal will certainly have chances.
Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning puts up pressure better than most defensive players in the country, if they were to be able to find McNamara in big spots. However, Georgia rushers must descend blocks to stop this Wolverine passing attack.
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