Jordan Davis-Nick Saban-2021 SEC Championship Game
Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) before the Bulldogs' game against Florida at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Rob Davis)
Rob Davis

Jordan Davis downplays Nick Saban’s praise ahead of 2021 SEC Championship Game: ‘You can’t let it get to your head’

ATHENS — Nick Saban had no problem doling out praise on Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis. Saban is hardly the first to do so this season, as Davis is legitimately one of the best players in the country. He’s up for a number of national awards and has a Heisman Trophy case as the most impactful defender on the nation’s best unit.

“I mean, I think the guy is one of the most dominant players in college football,” Saban said. “Any defensive lineman, I guess you can look at a lot of things, but the number one thing is how hard are they to block? And he’s really hard to block.

“He’s got great size. He’s very powerful, but he’s got really good initial quickness, short area quickness, and can push the pocket and pass rush. He’s about as good a player as I’ve seen for a long time as an inside player on any college football team.

That’s high praise from someone who coached the likes of Quinnen Williams, Daron Payne and Chrisitan Baramore in recent seasons. The NFL is littered with Alabama defensive tackles.

Yet Davis, despite his lack of statistical production stands out.

“He’s a really, really good player. He definitely made a big impact on a lot of games, and it shows on film,” Alabama quarterback Bryce Young said. “He’s a really good player, and overall it’s a really, really good unit. So we understand that. We all see what’s on film.”

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Yet Davis doesn’t want to hear any of it. He didn’t go out and use the word poison to describe Saban’s praise but he’s not focused on what Saban or Young or anyone else has to say about his abilities.

He knows he has to go out and once again prove himself in Saturday’s SEC championship game.

“If he thinks about that I’m honored, I’m glad but you can’t let it get to your head,” Davis said. “You have to keep dominating each week.”

Georgia has done just that this season, as the Bulldogs have the No. 1 defense in terms of points allowed per game and yards allowed per play. The Bulldogs also have 41 sacks on the season, despite the team leader having 5.0. Eleven different players have at least 1.5 sacks, meaning pressure can come from anywhere.

Yet Alabama’s offense is likely to be the stiffest for this GEorgia defense. Young is one of the top quarterbacks in the country, while Jameson Williams and John Metchie lead an elite group of pass-catchers. Williams led the SEC in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns this year, while Metchie caught a touchdown in Alabama’s 2020 win over Georgia.

There are questions about the Alabama offensive line and running game entering this week. The Crimson Tide have given up the most negative plays on offense this year, including 7.0 sacks last week against Auburn. Alabama also may be down to just one healthy running back, as Saban detailed that leading rusher Brian Robinson is dealing with a lower-body muscle injury. His status is up in the air for Saturday’s game.

All this comes after Alabama didn’t score a touchdown for the first 59 minutes of its game against Auburn.

Despite the questions around this Alabama team though, Davis knows it will be a challenge on Saturday. He wouldn’t have it any other way.