The Red & Black’s assistant sports editor William Newlin discussed Georgia’s upcoming game with Alex Plant, the sports editor of Alabama’s student newspaper, The Crimson White. Saturday is the first Georgia-Alabama matchup in the regular season since 2015, when Alabama beat Georgia in Athens 38-10.
William Newlin: What kind of hit will Alabama take without Saban on the sideline Saturday?
Alex Plant: I definitely don't think that you're going to see a difference in the intensity level, in the game plan and in the overall coaching this Saturday. Saban does a very good job getting his coaches prepared. You know when you watch Coach Saban as of late, when … things aren't going the right way, or just this past weekend with [Alabama’s] defense giving up over 500 yards to Ole Miss — he does not really blame the players for that, he blames his staff. And what’s so key to Saban’s success at Alabama, is that he wants his staff to be as prepared as possible with or without him there. I think this past Saturday was a wake up call for the staff, and this Saturday they're well prepared to get their game plans together.
Newlin: What’s the feeling on campus about the matchup?
Plant: To be honest, the only thing I’ve heard about the game this week is just that tickets are expensive. The minimum right now for a student ticket for the Georgia game is well above $300. … Tickets are given to your student account after you apply, and if you get one, you can transfer it to another student. So what some kids do is they get their ticket and they go on this Facebook page called Alabama Student Ticket Exchange … and 99% of the time they take the highest offer.
[Against Texas A&M], there were 410 transfers, so that means 15% of the students who got them ended up selling theirs. And I’ll be quite honest, I think that will at least double for this game because I think a lot of the kids who got the tickets are trying to be very lucrative with it and make a few hundred bucks off of them.
Newlin: What’s your biggest takeaway from the Ole Miss game?
Plant: The thing I take away that, in my opinion is most important, is that teams have continuously underestimated the ability of Mac Jones. I've always compared Mac Jones in the articles and the podcasts that I do to a more talented AJ McCarron. His drop back is almost flawless, his deep ball is very precise. However, the takeaway that I got from these past three games is that the defense is always trying to take away the run game, which is just Najee Harris, and if you focus on stopping the run, you have to allow Mac Jones the opportunity to beat you with throwing the ball. And I think a lot of teams underestimate his ability to be able to single-handedly beat a team by just throwing the football.
Newlin: With Georgia currently a 6.5-point underdog Saturday, what do you think the Bulldogs have to do to upset Alabama at home?
Plant: I'm in my opinion, Georgia has a very two dimensional offense. So, you know your first dimension is the run game, second dimension is the passing game, third dimension is a dual-threat quarterback. I think that Georgia is lacking that dual-threat quarterback. … That's what [Alabama is] best at statistically, solving a two dimensional offense.
I think to win on Saturday, Georgia is going to have to get the running backs involved in the screen game are going to have to get their tight ends involved in the short pass game because without having to have linebacker as a spy to keep eye on a dual-threat quarterback, you can send multiple linebacker blitzes on first and second down … you can play more man-to-man when you apply that pressure. For Georgia to win, it’s going to have to be death by 1,000 cuts, it’s going to have to be five-yard dinks and dunks all game long.
Newlin: Score prediction?
Plant: It was October 3, 2015. Alabama had just lost, so they were ranked No. 13. Georgia was ranked No. 8, and [Georgia] were the favorites to come out of the SEC. Alabama ended up going into Athens and beating them 38 to 10, so my score prediction is extremely similar to that. I think it's going to be 38 to 13 Alabama.