Georgia football-Nakobe Dean-Alabama
12/31/21 - Miami Gardens - Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean sacks Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara during the 2nd quarter of the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Genius of Nakobe Dean on display as Georgia football sets up rematch against Alabama

Nakobe Dean called it out before it happened. If you watch the film, you see him signal with his arm to watch the motion coming from Michigan prior to the snap.

The Wolverines then tried to use the eye candy to fool the Georgia defense and set up a play-action pass. Dean though remained disciplined and didn’t fall for the trap.

Doing so gave him a free shot at Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara and Dean came up with a sack to give him team-leading 6.0 on the season.

Dean and Georgia will get another shot at Alabama as the Crimson Tide took care of business by beating Cincinnati 27-6 in the other College Football Playoff semifinal.

The biggest thing Georgia will need to fix is its pass rush, as the Bulldogs did not sack Bryce Young in the loss. It’s the only game all season Georgia did not take down the opposing quarterback. By comparison, the Bulldogs picked up 4.0 sacks against the Wolverines.

“We generated some better rush, and again, we have to be able to do that to be successful,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Was it a magic potion? I don’t think it was a magic potion. We called a lot of the same calls we called against Alabama. But the quarterback probably didn’t escape as good as Alabama’s did, and we finished a little better.”

Given Alabama’s struggles with pressure this season, Georgia will likely need Dean to rack up a sack or two. Doing so would put him past the 6.5 sacks Roquan Smith had in his Butkus Award-winning season.

Smith, similar to Dean, had a stellar performance in the Rose Bowl to put Georgia in the national championship. Georgia met Alabama in that championship game as well, with the Crimson Tide emerging with a win. It’s the only thing Smith couldn’t do during the magical 2017 season.

Since Dean signed with Georgia as a member of the 2019 recruiting class, Dean has heard those Smith comparisons. In reality, it’s unfair to compare this version of Dean to that version of Smith. The latter was asked to do a lot more than Dean, as he played on a less-talented defense.

But it’s fair to wonder if Smith would stand out as much as Dean has if he played on a more loaded defense.

Dean’s credentials are impressive even beyond what shows up in the box score. Like Smith, he is a team captain. Dean was also named the captain of AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes players for what they do in their community.

The Smith comparisons or looming NFL draft decision though doesn’t worry Dean. Even as We are the Champions played in Miami, the Georgia linebacker made sure to note that the job wasn’t done. That they weren’t champions yet. That they didn’t put in all this work to just win the Orange Bowl.

“The way we worked over the past couple weeks, what we emphasized and the work we put in, I feel like we’ve gotten better,” Dean said. “We need to continue to work for the next week and a half and continue to get better.”

Nakobe Dean, Georgia football set for rematch against Alabama

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