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Georgia football winners and losers from the 2022 National Championship Game
Winners: James Cook and Zamir White
Many thought James Cook and Zamir White would be the new Sony Michel and Nick Chubb when they arrived at Georgia as members of the 2018 recruiting class. While they may not have reached the individual heights of the two NFL running backs, Cook and White played massive roles for Georgia in the second half of Monday’s game.
Cook flipped the game with his 67-yard run. It was a moment of individual brilliance from the senior running back. The kind that Georgia so often didn’t seem to have against Alabama. On a field full of elite athletes, Cook was the best one on that play.
“It was exciting to see him make that big run. He’s been really explosive all the playoffs,” offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer said. “It was a great moment for him, great moment for us, and we kind of got sparked what we wanted to get accomplished as a team.”
For White, he proved to be the thunder to Cook’s lightning in the second half. He finished the game with 84 rushing yards, most of them the punishing type that softened up the Alabama defense as the game wore on.
Cook already announced that Monday was his final game for Georgia, as he’s off to the NFL to make life miserable for opposing defenses. The game very well have been White’s last one as well. It that’s the case, then the two go out as legends, who carved out their own space in ‘RBU’ lore.
“Seeing my brothers smile knowing what we accomplished and holding up the trophy at the end,” Cook said. “Greatest moment and you can never get it back.”
Loser: 1980 jokes
This is self-explanatory.
Winner: Lewis Cine
Cine said on Tuesday morning he felt like he got by a train, describing the whirlwind of events that followed an incredibly physical football game.
A number of players on Alabama’s offense probably felt the same way. Cine’s speed and physicality were frequently on display on Monday night, as he finished with seven tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass deflection.
The effort gave him defensive MVP honors. That it went to him was surprising to those in the press box, but perhaps that is more because there were so many different answers. Maybe it was Nakobe Dean or Kelee Ringo who deserved the honor.
The fact that it was a debate perfectly speaks to the brilliance of defense. The one that forced five Alabama field goal attempts and gave just two touchdowns in two playoff games.
“It’s kind of dope, in my opinion,” Cine said on being a member of this team. “And years ahead I can just bring my kids and my family over and be, like, I was on this team. I helped and I was a part of something great.”
Georgia had an unassailably great defense, with the exception of a five-possession run in the SEC championship game. It finished the year with 48 sacks. It intercepted Bryce Young twice, after the Alabama quarterback had just five interceptions in the prior 14 games. It had the nation’s best red zone defense, a fitting stat as this group was its best on Monday night when it absolutely had to be.
Many members of this unit will go on to NFL careers, likely as impact players. Cine very well could be one of them, as he is a draft-eligble junior. Whether he stays or goes shouldn’t change his place on this team.