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David Pollack shares his thoughts on what Georgia has to do to beat Alabama
Georgia legend and ESPN analyst David Pollack knows a thing or two about the SEC Championship. In his time at Georgia, Pollack played in the 2002 and 2003 SEC championship game, coming away victorious against Arkansas in 2002. His ’03 team lost to an LSU team that was coach by Nick Saban, who is now on the Alabama sidelines.
Pollack met with reporters ahead of Saturday’s SEC championship game, which sees No. 1 Alabama take on No. 4 Georgia. The College GameDay analyst shared a very interesting thought on what Georgia can do to slow down Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and what the Georgia offense needs to do to win the game.
Georgia and Alabama kickoff at 4 p.m. ET on CBS. The game can also be heard on WSB Radio 95.5 FM/750 AM
DawgNation: What do you remember about playing in this game from when you were at Georgia?
David Pollack:It was awesome, it was loud. I don’t think people understand the magnitude of this game and the sounds and the voice of the game. It’s louder than championship games. The people in the south are crazy, it’s breathing and then football. It just means so much to the people, so the atmosphere is always so freakin’ cool.
DN: Is the fact that both Georgia and Alabama have played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, does that matter, does the familiarity make a difference in a game like this?
DP: Does it matter, because both sides have played here before? No it doesn’t matter, but there’s a lot of young kids who haven’t played in this game before that are going to have huge impacts. I think when you look at Georgia… there’s a lot of youth that hasn’t seen this environment in this big of a game. But it’s two good teams, and it’s going to be awesome. I’m sure there’s a lot of resentment from a year ago. You watch the hype videos and I assure you 2nd-and-26 has been talked about a ton, and I’m sure it’ll be a chip on the shoulder type deal. Looking back at 2002, that was a big moment for Georgia, but 2003, LSU destroyed us. But when they came back to our building in 2004, we beat the piss out of them. Nick Saban was the coach, and all offseason, it was about that moment and beating that team. Every time I see Nick, we always talk about Nick, and he’s like ‘y’all were just pissed and just killed us.’ So the revenge and all that stuff goes into it.
DawgNation: For the Georgia offense, is the challenge to keep Tua (Tagovailoa) on the sideline and play ball control or is to be as explosive as possible, to try and match them point for point?
DP: You have to get 30-plus. No defense in college football is holding Alabama under 30. You better get ready to score, you better put your track shoes and whatever that looks like from a schematic standpoint, you better understand that. Nobody has been able to stick to a gameplan against Alabama, because they get a stop and then Tua scores, and then a stop and Tua scores, you’re down 14 and that run game is out of it. You better start fast. Starting fast is the key. A year ago you did that, and you came in and changed the game. It’s counterintuitive, and you’ll never hear an analyst say this, but I would let Alabama run the football. When have you ever said that about Alabama? Let them run the football, and then when you get in the red(zone), you play man coverage, less RPO game, you get more aggressive and you have less ground to cover. You get them to kick threes, and their kicker isn’t the best in the world and their field goal issues will become more real if you do that.
DN: You mention sacrificing the run against Tua, isn’t that the recipe that got Georgia in trouble in the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma with Baker Mayfield last year?
DP: Did they win? I would give up the run game. I’m not saying give up 40-yard chunks, that’s stupid. But RPO action? I’d play back, I’d give up runs, and if they get six, seven yards a pop, I get in the redzone. Now I get aggressive, I take away those window throws, those timing routes. (Deandre) Baker can be on an island wherever he wants. Now I feel maybe more comfortable with (Tyrique) Mcghee, Tyson Campebll playing more man coverage. When they have the whole field, and Alabama has that guy playing quarterback and that speed on the outside and that offensive line, good luck.
DN: Some fans are hopeful that maybe Georgia shows some blitz pressures they haven’t shown yet. Maybe get some of those freshman linebackers involved. How much optimism should that create for Georgia?
DP: You have to create some turnovers. If you think Georgia’s defense, which is one of the best in the country, is going to stop Tua, and they’ve been holding stuff(back), I don’t know that plan. I haven’t seen that happen yet. How many passes as Tua thrown in the fourth quarter this year? Again, modern football has changed. I wish I could tell you that I love watching defensive football struggles. It doesn’t happen very often. The Saints and the Cowboys last night(Thursday), was like ‘oh my god there’s defense again.’ It happens sporadically, but I think we’re in for a lot of scoring, and Georgia better bring their scoring shoes. They have to stay aggressive. I love what (Georgia offensive coordinator Jim) Chaney did last year against them, with seven passes to start the game last year. You have to stay aggressive and score. You have to keep Alabama off-balance.
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