OPPOSING VIEW: Kirby Smart may eventually run down Bama’s Nick Saban, but not this year
AN OPPOSING VIEW
ATHENS — At DawgNation, we aim to bring you the foremost authorities and experts on whatever subject it is we’re discussing. Today, that subject is Alabama, and as the Crimson Tide goes, there’s is no greater authority than Cecil Hurt.
If you haven’t heard of him, then you don’t pay attention to ‘Bama. Hurt has been following that program since he was an Alabama student and Bear Bryant was head coach. So when you start asking for historical perspective for what the Tide has been doing under coach Nick Saban, you’d do well to pay attention to what Hurt has to say.
And you should anyway. Cecil is a great follow on Twitter @CecilHurt as he weighs in on a lot of things outside of ‘Bama football and even sports. That’s the reason he has nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter. Meanwhile, you can read all of Hurt’s stories HERE or his and all other stories on Alabama at TideSports.com.
Here’s how Cecil answered the questions I sent his way this week.
1. I’m especially curious about sort of the energy and vibe there in Crimson Country. Is ‘Bama and, I guess, its fans fired up about a rematch with Georgia or is that just the little speed bump they need to get over to continue the quest to become greatest Alabama team ever?
Hurt: This is the fifth straight year (and 8 out of 10) that Alabama has been involved in the playoffs, so while I wouldn’t say it’s grown old, it’s certainly not a novelty. In general, though, Alabama fans like going to Atlanta and the two Alabama/UGA games in the domes have both been classics. So there is a big-game buzz, definitely.
2. You have seen most all of the great ‘Bama teams. Where does this one rank on the totem pole of greatest of the greatest?
Hurt: There is an argument for the 1934 team, but I didn’t see that one. Ironically, some of the best (1966, 1973, 1977, 2013, 2016) weren’t national champs. The 1992 team and 2011 team were both better defensively, but nowhere close on offense. So I would say this is the best overall, if it can close the deal.
3. I see the Tide has struggled in the kicking game. Do you see that as a true weakness/disadvantage against Georgia? And is there anywhere else you feel like Alabama is somewhat vulnerable to the Bulldogs?
Hurt: Absolutely a disadvantage. Placekicking has been inconsistent. They’ve changed punters mid-season and neither was J.K. Scott. There could be points available for Georgia here.
4. The narrative at UGA is that Kirby Smart has the blueprint, and it’s just a matter of time before he unseats the aging Nick Saban to overtake Alabama as the SEC’s dominant team. Do you buy that on any level?
Hurt: Well, there is having the blueprint and then there is having the architect. What has separated Saban from other coaches is that he has changed as needed. This is a very different team from 2011, for example. With that said, Kirby is a good coach who learned a lot from Nick and will recruit well. He will keep putting them in position and if you do that, you will break through eventually. Whether that means five national championships in nine years is a different question.
5. We all know ‘Bama’s gonna be in the playoff regardless of Saturday’s outcome and that Tua’s gonna win the Heisman. Who are some other ‘Bama players that might not be as well known that are worthy of national awards or at least everyone’s attention on Saturday?
Hurt: Quinnen Williams should win all the defensive line awards, especially with no healthy Bosa or Oliver in the mix. He has been dominant. Jerry Jeudy is probably a year away from Julio/Amari/Ridley recognition, plus he isn’t the sole target. Josh Jacobs is probably the best of a stacked group of backs and Irv Smith is a major weapon at tight end. If you are looking at true freshmen — probably a painful topic for UGA fans after last year’s game — it’s receiver/returner Jalyn Waddle and Patrick Surtain in the secondary. That’s some, not all.
CECIL HURT’S PREDICTION
Georgia could certainly pull the upset, but no one has been able to keep up so far this season because Alabama has such a diverse offense — and Tua. Alabama 31, Georgia 20.