It was the same old story for Georgia against Alabama. The Bulldogs played well for stretches. They held the lead at halftime. But it all came apart in the second half. The Bulldogs were shut out by a defense that gave up 48 points to Ole Miss in the final 30 minutes.
And the Alabama offense led by Mac Jones, Najee Harris and its dynamic wide receivers put up 565 offensive yards on their way to a 41-24 win over Georgia.
Below are some of our observations on the game.
Stetson Bennett IV story turns into a nightmare
Stetson Bennett had been a great story for Georgia. On Saturday, the Bulldogs needed him to be a great player.
He had the worst outing of his Georgia career.
Bennett was intercepted three times, with two of them coming in the second half. The first one came when Bennett failed to get the ball over the defensive line, as it was batted back and into the arms of Justin Eboigbe.
His two interceptions in the second half both came on third down as well. When Georgia needed him to make a play, and he was unable to do so.
The Georgia quarterback threw for 269 yards on the night and two touchdowns. But the limitations of Bennett were shown on Saturday, as he had a number of passes either knocked down or tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Bennett gave Georgia more than enough to beat the likes of Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee. But as was the case for Jake Fromm, the Bulldogs needed a positive difference-maker at the quarterback position. Bennett wasn’t that for Georgia on Saturday.
Going forward, it will be worth watching if Bennett gets the chance to continue to be that guy or if the Bulldogs turn to JT Daniels.
Alabama wide receivers cook Georgia defensive backs
As good as Georgia’s secondary is, the Alabama wide receivers are pretty clearly better. Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle did whatever they wanted to on Saturday.
They both finished with over 100 yards. They both had touchdown catches, with Smith catching a 17-yarder in the first half. He added another over Eric Stokes that looked like something Randy Moss would do.
WOW… NFL catch. pic.twitter.com/e9f04nL3DJ
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) October 18, 2020
Waddle’s fundamentally changed the game, as he blew through the Georgia secondary for a 91-yard touchdown. The play gave Alabama the lead for good.
GOODBYE JAYLEN WADDLE! 90 YARDS TO THE HOUSE! pic.twitter.com/SCaA6rYY9e
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 18, 2020
Waddle and Smith could’ve had even bigger numbers on the night, as they each drew multiple penalties on the Georgia secondary. Smith had 11 catches for 167 yards while Waddle went for six catches and 161 yards.
On the night, Jones threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns while playing better than Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts ever did against the Georgia defense. Harris also added 152 yards on the ground. Coming into the game, Georgia had given up just 115 rushing yards through the first three games.
These two wide receivers will be the best two Georgia sees all season. But there’s a chance they see them again in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs, Smart and Charlton Warren have to find a better way to pressure Jones. That seems to be the only way to keep the ball out of the hands of Alabama’s dynamic playmakers.
Bulldogs lead in the first half again, come up short in the final half
Starting the games haven’t been a problem for Georgia against the Crimson Tide. In all three games against Alabama since Smart has taken over as the head coach, the Bulldogs have held the lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs led 24-20 going into halftime. After Georgia fell behind early in the first quarter, the Bulldogs battled back. Bennett hit running back James Cook for an 82-yard touchdown pass, which was the longest pass play of the Smart era.
The Georgia defense intercepted Jones on the first drive of the game and forced three punts in the half. It also pressured Jones as the defense sacked him twice.
Once again for Georgia, the first half wasn’t the problem. It went toe-to-toe against the Crimson Tide. It produced big plays. The defense pressured Jones into bad plays. For whatever reason, those plays stopped happening in the second half.
Alabama outscored Georgia 21-0 in the second half. For as well as the Bulldogs played during the opening 30 minutes, they played as poorly in the second half. It’s a recurring trend for Georgia at this point against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
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