Three Things You Need to Know about Georgia
Through the grind of preseason practices and the obstacle course that is the college football season, two teams have the opportunity of crossing the finish line as the national champions of college football in 2017.
Alabama and Georgia kickoff Monday night for the right to be called national championships. While Alabama is looking to win their fourth national title of the decade, Georgia is looking to be crowned national champions for the first time since Herschel Walker’s freshman campaign in 1980.
The Crimson Tide comes in with a 12-1 record while Georgia enters at 13-1 along with their first SEC title since 2005.
Alabama has won the last three meetings against Georgia and leads the all-time series 38-25-4.
As kickoff approaches in Atlanta, let’s find out three things you need to know about the SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs.
Efficient Red Zone Offense
Monday’s game features two of the top scoring offense in the SEC as Alabama has the conference’s top scoring offense at 37.9 points per game while Georgia is third in the conference at 36.3 points per game.
In addition to the production at running back and the emergence of Jake Fromm at quarterback, the Bulldogs have been consistently efficient in the red zone all year long.
In 14 games this season, Georgia’s offense has scored 51 times out of 53 opportunities in the red zone including 38 touchdowns.
Strong LInebacking Corps
While most of the attention for the Bulldogs will revolve the running back position, the Georgia linebackers could be key to a potential Georgia victory.
The Bulldogs have two of the top linebackers in the SEC in Butkus Award winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Roquan Smith and Second Team All-SEC selection Lorenzo Carter.
Smith comes in with 124 tackles along with 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the year while Carter has 57 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this season.
Both players have stepped up their game in the last two games for Georgia. Smith took home SEC Championship Game MVP honors thanks to two fumble recoveries and a sack in the 28-7 win over Auburn in Atlanta. In last Monday’s Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma, Carter recorded a career-high 10 tackles and came up with a key blocked field goal late in the game.
Dependable Kicking Game
If Monday night’s game is a low-scoring contest, Georgia could be in a favorable position thanks to the reliability of their kicking game.
At placekicker, sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship has made 17 of his 20 field goal attempts including a Rose Bowl record 55-yard field goal try at the end of the first half against Oklahoma. In addition to his field goal kicking, Blankenship handles Georgia’s kickoff duties and has sent 61 of his 89 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
As JK Scott has been the preeminent punter in the SEC on the Alabama sidelines, Georgia punter Cameron Nizialek turned in a solid 2017 campaign.
The graduate transfer from Columbia University was a Ray Guy Award semifinalist as he averaged 44.9 yards per punt on 55 punts.
Nizialek pinned opposing teams inside the 20-yard line 25 times this season and opposing punt returns managed just 63 yards on 12 returns this season.