TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa might still be known best for his game-winning 41-yard TD pass to beat the Georgia football program last season.
But the sophomore quarterback and Heisman Trophy favorite has something to say about all that.
“As far as what I know from last year, last year was last year, and I’m just worried about what we can do as a team this year,” said Tagovailoa, who came off the bench at halftime of last season’s College Football Playoff Championship game and rallied the Tide from 13-0 down to a 26-23 OT victory.
The Crimson Tide quarterback has led Alabama to a 12-0 start and a spot in the SEC Championship Game where he’ll face the No 5-ranked Bulldogs at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Atlanta.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has seen to it that his secondary has learned from the costly mistake.
The Bulldogs leads the nation in fewest plays allowed of 20 or more yards (25) this season.
Tagovailoa made it clear he’s in no hurry to force this issue against the Georgia secondary on Saturday, shedding some insight on how he plans to attack the Bulldogs.
“We’re going to take what they give us,” Tagovailoa said Monday. “If it’s the flat the whole game, we’re just going to take the flat. Whatever their defense gives us, we’re going to take it.”
The Tide ranks fifth in the nation with an average of 16.7 yard per completion. The Georgia defense ranks 30th with an average of 13.53 yards per completion.
Tagovailoa has the highest pass efficiency rating in the country, fueled by his amazing 36 touchdown-to-2 interception ratio this season.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said one of the areas Tagovailoa has grown most is in his ability to know when to check down and throw shorter passes, as opposed to forcing the ball downfield.
“He’s always been pretty good at that, that’s been one of his strengths, he’s very instinctive and he reads things quickly and makes quick decisions,” Saban said Monday. “But I think as his knowledge and experience has grown.
“There’s certainly things he can continue to grow on that would help him eliminate some of the negative plays, although there hasn’t been a ton of them, we want to minimize them as much as we possibly can,” he said. “I think he’s gotten better and better as the season has gone on.”
Tagovailoa said Georgia has a good defense, but he’s comfortable facing the Bulldogs secondary because of the similarities to the Alabama defense.
“I think they’re a really good team, but we’ve been facing them because of what our defense runs, and it’s very similar,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s always going to be a challenge to go up a team like this. but I don’t think it’s going to be too big of a deal because we see a lot of it in practice.”
As for last year’s game and his historic play, Tagovailoa said he does appreciate the moment, but he and his Alabama teammates are past it.
“We got to enjoy it for quite some time now, and it’s a new season, so everything that happened last year, happened last year,” Tagovailoa said. “We understand it’s a new team, and they have a new team, and we have to prepare, it’s a different ball game this time.”
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