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Georgia football defense faces its toughest task against Alabama
There’s a scene in the 2007 film Superbad where Michael Cera’s character is running away from a cop played by Seth Rogen. Cera is successfully able to evade Rogen’s character, leaving Rogen winded and gasping for air. When Rogen’s partner asks what happened, Rogen declares that Cera is, “the fastest kid alive.”
Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle might not leave defenders wheezing like an out of shape cop, but he’s certainly got the skills to be the fastest player on the field when Georgia takes on Alabam on Saturday.
“He is as dynamic and electric as I have seen. He touches the ball—you can see it on tape—it pops off,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Shame on them if they don’t because he is electric when he touches the ball. He is just a really, really good football player.
He is physical. There are a lot of challenges there for us with him. He creates a lot of issues.”
Waddle isn’t the only dynamic playmaker for Alabama though. They’ve also got Najee Harris, who is fresh off a five-touchdown game against Ole Miss this past weekend. He earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the performance.
“They’ve got one of, probably the best backs in the country if not one of the best backs in the country,” Smart said. “Najee [Harris] runs the ball really hard, and they are massive upfront. They can go up-tempo and they do tempo well, but they are really big, they can take shots down the field with explosive wideouts they have. They make you defend the entire field.”
Through the first three games of the season, Harris leads the SEC in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards.
It helps when you have the likes of offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood and monster offensive line opening holes for you in the ground game. Smart made sure to praise that unit as well when speaking with reporters on Monday.
“It’s just a big group. They can swallow you up,” Smart said. “They can move you; they can mash you. [Alex] Leatherwood played against us in the national championship game. He came in and played, and I thought he played really well in that game for a freshman.
“They’ve got experience. It’s certainly a really good group of veteran offensive line guys that help them be successful offensively.”
Related: Even without championship stakes, Georgia-Alabama still expects to be a ‘physical brand of football’
That’s all before even mentioning the name Devonta Smith. Yes, the same Smith who caught the 2nd-and-26 pass from Tua Tagovailoa in the aforementioned national championship game to beat the Bulldogs. He’s still at Alabama and all he’s done this season is catch 27 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
Not only do all those aforementioned players have big-time NFL futures — Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had all four players pegged as potential top-20 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft — they all have experience in big games against Georgia. That will matter when the two teams meet on Saturday night.
So how can any team be expected to slow down such a potent offense? Well if there is any unit that could possibly be up to the task this season, it figures to be the Georgia defense.
“We have to make sure we take extra reps in the weight room, extra reps in the film room, extra reps on the field and just do everything right,” defensive tackle Jordan Davis said.
The Bulldogs have been perhaps the SEC’s only stout defensive unit so far to start the season. The Bulldogs have given up just 37 total points so far, with one of those touchdowns being the offense’s fault thanks due to a bad snap.