12/4/20 - Atlanta - Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) completes a catch over Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Derion Kendrick (11) during the 2nd quarter of the SEC Championship football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

With no John Metchie, Georgia defense can’t let Jameson Williams beat them again

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Jameson Williams has the undivided attention of Georgia football defense

A year ago, Jameson Williams was buried on the Ohio State depth chart. It’s understandable, given Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are high NFL draft picks and Jaxon Smith-Nijigba rolled up a Rose Bowl-record 347 receiving yards against Utah.

Williams was no sure thing when he arrived at Alabama this offseason. Very few people on the national landscape saw Williams turning into the leading receiver in the SEC. Georgia very likely didn’t see him being the type of player to put 184 yards and two touchdowns against this defense in the SEC championship game. If it did, it probably would’ve made a bigger push to land the speedy wide receiver out of the transfer portal or stop him the first time the two teams met.

“When we were able to bring Jameson into our program, he was a guy that came in right away and wasn’t in spring practice and started with us in the summer and just really did a great job learning our offense and hit the ground running,” offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said of Williams. “I think Bryce (Young), the rest of the offensive guys did a great job with him helping him out. John Metchie, all those guys that play receiver out there that have been here, they did a great job. And he picked it up fast and obviously he’s a huge part of our success.”

Related: Alabama OC Bill O’Brien on Georgia defensive pressure: ‘They have the players that can make it happen’

Georgia also had issues in that game with Metchie, as the other Alabama wide receiver had 6 receptions for 97 yards in the first half. It was a disaster of a day for the Georgia defense, most of it taking place in the second quarter. The Crimson Tide scored 24 points in that quarter. In the other 13 second quarters Georgia has played this season, it has given just 10 points.

Williams scored on a 67-yard touchdown to start the second half for Alabama, his speed allowing to get behind Kelee Ringo and Lewis Cine. But after that, the Alabama offense didn’t find the end zone again. And if there’s a silver lining to the rematch for this Georgia defense, it’s that Metchie won’t be out there. The Alabama receiver tore his ACL on Alabama’s final drive of the second quarter.

The Alabama team has downplayed the impact of Metchie’s absence, pointing to the game freshman Ja’Corey Brooks had against Cincinnati. He caught 4 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Brooks also shined in the Iron Bowl win for Alabama, catching the game-tying touchdown for the Crimson Tide.

“I would say Ja’Corey, he’s doing excellent right now. He’s a real good ball player,” Williams said. “And I think you guys are going to see very much more from him in his coming days.”

That trait, that competitiveness is something that sticks out to O’Brien. Even more so than his raw speed.

“I can’t say enough about his competitiveness. He’s a player that goes out and practices every day like it’s a game,” O’Brien said. And so I think that’s something that the great ones have those traits. Everybody’s a little bit different. Everybody’s built differently. Everybody has different skill sets. Different speed things like that.

“But the best ones that I’ve been around and Jameson’s in that category, they all have that competitive spirit that’s really hard to find sometimes.”

Williams knows he’ll see extra attention against Georgia. In the game against Cincinnati, he experienced different coverages from what he had seen when Metchie was healthy. He’s confident Alabama will be able to scheme around those plans. Against the Bearcats, Williams caught 7 passes for 62 yards.

The Alabama receiver also isn’t limited to helping this team on offense. Even if Georgia is able to bottle him up — you don’t stop someone of Williams caliber — on offense, he’s prone to make a play or two on special teams as well.

Williams’ impact on special teams is part of the reason why Georgia knows that stopping him on offense doesn’t solely shut down the Crimson Tide. This is the national championship game and there is talent all over the field. Someone is going to make a play. It might be Williams. It might also be a Georgia defensive back.

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