Why Alabama football is struggling against the Georgia Bulldogs

AUBURN, Ala. – If you have searched in the iron bowl for the sake of believing Alabama will beat Georgia in the SEC Championship, you haven’t found any.

The 2021 Alabama Crimson Tide consists of a group of imperfect fighters. There is value in that.

Without Alabama’s stoicism (and Auburn’s offensive incompetence), he would have lost the Iron Bowl. Instead, Alabama shrugged off a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit amid a hostile crowd to a 24-22 win in four overtime.

A neat comeback, which will be remembered in Iron Bowl lore – but also a performance that offered further proof that the Alabama No.2 (11-1, 7-1 SEC) is more likely to be direct to a New Years bowl that college. Football playoff.

Auburn is armed with one of the SEC’s best defenses and proved it on Saturday, but Georgia has the best college football defense since 2011 in Alabama.

If Auburn could keep Alabama scoreless for three quarters, then what should we expect from Alabama against a defense that gives up 6.9 points per game?

MORE FROM BLAKE TOPPMEYER:Alabama football and Bryce Young do not succumb to knockouts. They fight.

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ANALYSIS:How Alabama football managed to save the game to force overtime in Iron Bowl

To think Alabama will beat No.1 Georgia (12-0, 8-0) on Saturday (3 p.m. CT, CBS) requires believing that coach Kirby Smart will melt in fear at the sight of Nick Saban, his former boss.

Alabama will own the best player in the sport’s most important position – quarterback Bryce Young – but during Saturday’s three quarters, Auburn showed Georgia that the possibility of beating Alabama has less to do with Young. and more to do with the terror on Alabama’s unusually bad offensive line. .

On several plays, the question wasn’t whether Auburn was going to fire Young. The question was: who was going to fire him?

One second-quarter play, in particular, portrayed the woes of the Alabama offensive line. Auburn’s Derick Hall passed Alabama right tackle Damieon George Jr., while Eku Leota passed Kendall Randolph, who entered the game as the sixth lineman. Hall and Leota rushed over to Young, met in the middle and collapsed the quarterback – the fifth of Auburn’s seven sacks, and it wasn’t even half-time yet.

The Bulldogs will watch the Iron Bowl movie and think, oh, is that fun? Consider Georgia’s defense so deep and talented that its main tackle, linebacker Channing Tindall, doesn’t even start.

Georgia’s 41 sacks rank fourth in the country. Alabama are third at 43, but Georgia have given up just eight sacks this season, the second lowest in the country.

Alabama are dropping their sacks at a rate of 2.92 per game, double the average from last year.

The trio of quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver DeVonta Smith and running back Najee Harris highlighted the Alabama National Championship team in 2020, but more than any of those three, the Alabama is sorely missed by the three offensive linemen who were selected in the NFL Draft after last season.

The best way to slow down a pass is to establish a running game, but Alabama has never seriously threatened Auburn on the ground. Brian Robinson Jr. and Trey Sanders totaled 93 yards on 26 carries. On three occasions, Alabama’s workouts ended after Robinson or Sanders encountered a defensive wall where they hoped to find a running track on games third and 1 or fourth and 1.

Young has proven to be indestructible, however. After playing most of the game under duress, Young led a 97-yard tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter, and he shone through overtime.

But if Alabama’s pass protection issues persist and he can’t put together any sort of complementary racing game, there will be no room left for the rally against Georgia.

Because unlike Auburn, Georgia doesn’t play with its food. Bulldog Party.

Blake Toppmeyer is SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s cover, think a digital subscription which will allow you to access it all.

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