WATCH: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa ready to flip trend vs. Georgia football
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa made it clear that what has happened to the Crimson Tide’s offense at the start of the past two games won’t suffice against Georgia.
The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide (12-0) has looked beatable in the first halves of the past two games, playing The Citadel to a 10-10 tie at intermission and leading Auburn 17-14 through the first 30 minutes last Saturday.
Alabama rolled in the second halves of both games, but the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (11-1) don’t figure to be as accommodating.
The Crimson Tide plays Georgia at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (TV: CBS, Radio: WSB 750 AM, 95.5 FM).
“I think first we need to go out there and we need start fast, we haven’t been starting fast throughout the second part of the season,” Tagovailoa said at Alabama’s media day, indicating the Tide is ready to flip that recent trend.
“Execution is definitely a big thing for our offense,” he said. “We’re going to have find ways to execute, get the ball down field, find creases within our running game, and we should be fine.”
Tagovailoa said Monday that his plan is to take what the Georgia defense gives.
That doesn’t figure to be much — the Bulldogs have allowed just 25 plays of 20 yards or more this season, tops in the nation.
Alabama ranks second in the nation behind Oklahoma in average yards per play (7.7), most recently getting 8.3 yards per snap against Auburn.
Tagovailoa ranks No. 2 in the nation in passing yards per completion (16.87) and yards per attempt (11.86).
The sophomore from Hawaii quickly deflects the credit, however, pointing to the Tide’s deep arsenal of skill position players, including Biletnikoff Award finalist Jerry Jeudy.
“I’m like a kid in a candy shop, it’s awesome,” said Tagovailoa, who leads the nation in pass efficiency and has 36 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. “I can go to the right and get a Snickers bar if I want to, go to the left and get some Skittles. It’s really fun for me to be behind some first round, perhaps, draft picks.
“We’re all having fun. When you’re executing at a high level, you’re going to have fun.”
Tagovailoa was noticeably more fluid moving in the pocket and running in the 52-21 win over Auburn on Saturday, and he explained the absence of a knee brace he had been wearing was part of the reason why.
“I feel like it was kind of a hinderance, but the doctors wanted me to use it to protect my PCL,” Tagovailoa said. “But I told them, if it would be possible to take it off, because my mobility with it on isn’t the same.
“So we got it taken off, and it does feel a lot better.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart says the mobility is definitely a factor, but that’s just one way Tagovailoa can beat teams.
“He can (run) and he resorts to that if things don’t go right, but he can sit in the pocket and make every throw,” Smart said. “He’s very confident and I don’t know what the right word, but he’s got presence about him in the pocket. He doesn’t fear rush. He doesn’t fear contact.
“Guys are bearing down him and he sidesteps it and whips the ball out. That’s what makes him really special that he’s whipping it to some really good dudes.”
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