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Alabama senior WR put another dagger or two into the psyche of Georgia football fans on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

Georgia football: What Alabama and Nick Saban said after that big 17-point win

There are a lot of tangible ways to convey why the Georgia football program was still 17 points shy of Alabama on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

  • Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle just being better than whatever Georgia dialed up to slow them down
  • Having to defend those two and a load at tailback in former No. 1 overall prospect Najee Harris 
  • A strong effort from a “Great Wall” in Alabama’s own right across the offensive front.
  • Georgia starter Stetson Bennett IV leaving folks wondering if he is just a good SEC quarterback who had played very well so far this season 
  • With that last point, it seems to drill home it will take a good night from a great QB to outscore a team with the offensive weapons Alabama still has 
  • The three turnovers in the second half actually sounded a lot like how Georgia took down Tennessee just a week ago
  • A few curious calls on Georgia’s defensive backs
  • How every UGA game this fall has featured one half of peak play and then two quarters of off-peak play

The DawgNation report from what the opposing locker room had to say on Saturday night will not zoom in here on any one of those things.

We’ll look to discuss the intangibles. Especially one very specific intangible.

That would be the return of Nick Saban and what that meant to the latest edition of his Alabama football dynasty on Saturday night. The false-positive COVID-19 test plus the three straight negative tests led to an inspiring return to the Alabama locker room on Saturday.

Dylan Moses, a former 5-star OLB prospect, shared what that meant.

“As far as for me and the defense, like we were definitely confident when we saw him walking into our little meeting that we have usually before we do our walkthroughs. The energy definitely went up and our confidence level went through the roof.”

Mac Jones said it was “pretty crazy” when Saban just showed up in their pregame quarterback meeting.

“He showed up and you look over and Coach Saban is walking in,” Jones said. “From that perspective, we were fired up. But at the end of the day, he told us that we were ready and we had to go make plays. So either way, obviously having him on the sidelines was great and brought some good energy, too.”

That’s the thing here with Alabama. There is surely a frustration level for DawgNation here. The Bulldogs are always flirting with program-defining wins against Alabama but coming up short in a variety of ways at the end.

But that is why Alabama should be seen as perhaps the greatest sustained dynasty of the modern era. There’s a reason why a Saban team is so tough to take out.

Alabama recruits at an optimum level and it then seems to develop, deploy and manage those elite player assets at a 5-star level, too. Georgia has done a lot of amazing things in Kirby Smart’s time, but it has not been able to do that. Not at Saban’s level.

That is what still makes the Crimson Tide such a tough team for the Bulldogs to get by.

A larger sample of the comments from the winning side follows below.

Georgia football-Alabama football-Nick Saban
Alabama’s players said that the return of Nick Saban to the sideline was a definite boost to the team against Georgia. (SEC Media Portal)

Alabama coach Nick Saban

His opening comments on the game: “Well this was an obvious great win against a very very good football team. I was really proud of the way our guys fought in the game. I know of knew it was going to be a 15-round fight.”

“We probably wouldn’t be winning the fight until the later rounds. You know we got behind early in the game and the players kept playing the next play and kept fighting. I think it was a great win against a very very good team. I have a lot of respect for Georgia. I have a lot of respect for their coaches. I have a lot of respect for their players. They’ve really got a good team.”  

“Especially proud of our guys. To be able to do what they did, I thought this was a great win for them. They worked hard and we excited after the game. They were really happy. I’ve got a lot of gratitude myself for the way they sort of handled the disruption of the week with the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday deal. They really stayed focused. I was able to keep good communication with them. I think they responded with a lot of maturity not to let this [COVID-19 disruptions] bother you. But the norm now is disruption. It is the norm. It is going to happen. We knew that when we went into the season and I’m really really with the way the players managed, you know, the disruption of this week.”

“I think one thing to keep in mind: This is a great win. Great win for our team. But humility always keeps you hungry. It is one game against a very good team but you know we are going to have to continue to improve in a lot of areas and we are going to have to continue to work hard to try to play an SEC game every week, you know, is tough. The players have to respond every week because I think everybody you play in this league can beat you if you don’t bring your A-game. So that’s going to be very important for us. Spend 24 hours enjoying this but you know when that’s over we have got to go back to work and we have got to get better.” 

I thought the turnovers in the second half were huge. The defense played a little better in the second half. We got off the field on third down a little better. I think the offense did a magnificent job against Georgia’s really really good defense. They’ve got a really good defense and our guys did a good job of executing. We stayed focused on technical execution throughout the game. Still made some mistakes. Especially in the first half on defense. Settled down. Played a little better in the second half so really really proud of our guys all the way around.”

We had some great performances out there. Uh… Najee [Harris]. Smitty. [Devonta Smith] [Jaylen] Waddle. You know, a lot of guys really played. But really I’m proud of the whole team. Really I can’t…because they all played so hard you know in this game it is unfair to not point out that this was a great team win for everybody on our team. 

On where he thought his defense was better in the second half: “Well we had turnovers. We got a couple of stops on third down which were critical. They moved the ball a little bit. Missed a field goal. Which was huge. So I think it was just we did a better job of executing. We have to be able to adapt to different things that we see in the game.”

“You know the play the scored the big-play touchdown on to No. 4 was a new formation. Something we hadn’t seen. We should have bumped the safety out. Alright, he didn’t do it. So the linebacker ends up on a guy that is really a fast good player even though he is a running back. You know obviously, that guy hadn’t practiced doing that very much so we gave up a big play. There’s just a lot of things like that where we have to get all 11 players executing and doing what they are supposed to do so that we don’t have these mental errors that just keep sort of haunting us a little bit. But we did a better job in the second half of not having as many mental errors.” 

On how Alabama bled the clock out in the second half with the run game: “Well, I think that our offensive line did a really good job against their really good front. No doubt. When you get ahead in a game you want to be able to run the ball and we took the clock and the game at the end. Five or six minutes off the clock. So that’s what you have to be able to do. That’s why you have to be able to run the ball. There are certain times in certain situations in games where you don’t want to keep giving the ball back to the other team.”

On the need for balance in the game against Georgia: “I think we knew that we had to have balance in this game to be successful. I think the balance is the reason we were successful. We were able to run the ball fairly effectively. Still able to make some explosive plays passing and you Mac, you know, had another good day. It was a really good offensive performance.” 

On his very talented trio of wide receivers: “You know I think that trying to cover outstanding receivers really is a difficult task. You got to have a really really good secondary. You have to have some really really good guys to match up. So that’s been an advantage for us. It was a huge advantage for us last year and it is an advantage for us this year. But to be able to make explosive plays with these guys and their ability to convert on third down. People have a hard time covering them man-to-man which is a good thing. It is great. It is probably the strength of our team. We’ve got a lot more experience on offense. Good offensive line. Good runners. Tight ends. Played well for us tonight. These receivers are special.” 

On the emotions this week with his false positive COVID-19 result: “It was very emotional for me. I think a couple of things. I think I gained a lot of respect thinking that I had this. Even though we’ve done everything we can to set a good example relative to social distancing. Wearing a mask. Washing hands. You know from a player’s perspective I think everybody should have the proper respect. Because I am going to tell you when they tell you you tested positive that is not a good feeling. Now I wasn’t sick. Alright, so the other thing I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for was the unbelievable number of people that you know texted, sent prayers was just phenomenal.”

“I believe in things like that so I do think that it all helped. So I’d like to thank all of those people for their support and their help and all the relationships and people that I know all over the United States you know. Calling. Checking. Texting. Really it is heartfelt and I really appreciate it. And I also really appreciate which I said earlier the fact that the players handled the disruption without an issue. I think that’s the big thing.”

“It was emotional for me to come back today. I think they handled the disruption really really well. I’m not sure of me coming back today. I think they were ready to play this game whether I was there or not. I told them when I got sick I said that I hadn’t made a block or a tackle or caught a pass for you know, forty years now. So whether I am there or not you guys out to be able to go out there and take care of business. I was really proud of the way they handled all of that.” 

Alabama QB Mac Jones

On the weapons he has to use on offense: “Yeah, I mean those guys just get open and make plays. The offensive line blocks real well. So when you can do double moves and passes down the field it is really the offensive line that starts it all. You know just throwing it up to those guys and if it is one-on-one they’ll make the play.” 

On his interception on the game’s first play: “Yeah, I mean we always go over our ‘openers’ [first plays in the call script] and it was a great play. I’m not really sure exactly what happened. But [Devonta Smith] was wide open and I should have just got it out to him. They brought a corner blitz so that’s on me just getting the ball out there early on a double move to those guys.”

His goal for the game when he prepared for the Georgia secondary: “The goal is just to win. Win the game. You can look at their defense and we said this all week: ‘They have good players in secondary. They have good linebackers. They have good defensive linemen, but so do we. So the goal was to score more points than they did.”

“I think we did that. I know that sounds cliche but you just execute and do your job and good things will happen.” 

On being the first Alabama QB to throw for 400 yards in three straight games: “Yeah, I mean I’m just glad we won the game. Like if we just keep winning everybody will get stats or whatever you guys like. I enjoy winning and I think the defense needs more credit. They deserve it tonight. Going our there pitching a shutout in the second half pretty much. They gave us the energy they needed. We told them that goes week-to-week. Sometimes we need them. Sometimes they need us. I think they did the best they could. They played great and gave us that energy we needed. Obviously, we didn’t execute well in the first half.” 

On 27 targets and 24 catches for Devonta Smith in the last few games: “I just trust ‘Smitty’ a lot. Just banked reps that we have over the past four years. When a guy looks at you in your eyes and says ‘Throw that ball to me and says I don’t care if I am tripled covered. Throw it to me’ I mean it is hard to turn that down.” 

“He’s a Jordan-level competitor so if you can give him the ball, then he’ll make the play.” 

Alabama ILB Dylan Moses

On the second half shutout and defensive turnaround: “As far as for us, it was just not getting complacent. Playing 60 minutes. We knew that they were a great team. Georgia is not a pushover team. They were the No. 3 team in the nation for a reason. But as far as us, we just wanted to finish and play 60 minutes and do what we can.” 

Senior WR Devonta Smith

On whether he faced one of the better defensive backfields in his career on Saturday night: “Yes. It is a great defense. [Their] DBs are great. They disguise a lot of things. They gave us a lot of different coverages. Made us make a lot of adjustments that we just had to go over on the sideline and talk about. But overall that’s a great defensive back team.” 

Junior S DeMarcco Hellams

On the statement the Alabama defense made in the second half: “I think we made a tremendous statement. You know to bounce back from the [Ole Miss] game before and coming out in the second half we wanted to make a statement as a defense. Hold them to zero points. It was a great job for us.”

Rewinding Georgia-Alabama

The stories so far on DawgNation.com 

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