|"Sometimes there's just too much Bama in me" - Matt|
1. What is your affiliation to the University of Alabama?
I am 28 and currently live and work in Atlanta. I earned my undergrad (engineering) and masters (MBA) both at the University of Alabama, so I was lucky to be a student for six football seasons. I never missed a home game during that time even though we had Shula for most of my tenure. I also have an interesting perspective on this game being that I am engaged to a rabid UGA fan. As part of this I’ve attended 8 UGA games and 8 Bama over the past two years so I've seen both teams play a wide variety of opponents.
2. What is your favorite memory during your time as a Bama fan? (You have a lot of options so obviously it's not the Blackout 2008)
My favorite memory is easily attending the 2009 national championship game at the Rose Bowl. The Rose bowl tailgating was amazing; we tailgated right on a golf course that surrounds the stadium. Bama played a historic powerhouse in Texas and beat them handily. After years of anguish during the Shula years, and the anticipation of what the program could achieve under Saban, I felt like it was the true ‘Bama is Back’ moment.
3. Where is a place you see Bama having an advantage in the game? (scheme, position, etc)
Bama’s defensive line against UGA’s offensive line is where I see Bama having an advantage. The depth of Bama’s defensive line allows them to rotate eight guys without much of a drop off. This allows Bama to use packages designed for specific down and distances and keep fresh legs. USC and Florida were the games in which UGA’s offense struggled most. Both teams had highly talented d lines, and while Bama may not have the top end players those two opponents had, they do have better depth. Bama will use this to try and stop the run first, and then bring pressure on Murray with the pass rush specialists.
4. Where is a place you think Georgia could have an advantage in the game?
I think Georgia’s biggest advantage would be the UGA slot receiver against Bama’s nickel back. In the LSU and TA&M games Bama was beaten many times on 3rd down by the slot receiver who was being covered by safety. Bama has since moved freshman corner Geno Smith to this position in hopes that his speed will allow him to more effectively cover the inside receiver. I would look for Richt to put Malcolm Mitchell in the slot and challenge the freshman corner on mid to long second and third downs.
5. Who is a player on Bama Georgia fans may not know well know, but will after the game?
On offense, Amari Cooper is a name that causal football fans might not know. He is a freshman and Bama’s leading receiver. Cooper has the ability to stretch the field vertically, and has a knack for getting open when the play breaks down. He was injured during the LSU game and but has been steadily improving ever since. I expect Bama to go to him often especially with Kenny Bell out.
6. How will the loss of Bell at wide receiver affect Bama's offense if at all?
Kenny Bell was a small fast receiver who was primarily used as a deep threat and on crossing routes over the middle. He consistently made one or two big plays a game. His loss hurts mainly because Bama doesn’t have a backup with his top end speed. Bama is experimenting with pulling the red shirt of Chris Black, a freshman wide receiver that was injured in fall camp, to replace him. I would guess the more likely remedy will be to keep Cooper and Kevin Norwood in for more snaps which may affect how fresh they are towards the end of the game.
7. What is the confidence level of Bama fans entering this game?
I would say that Bama fans are pretty confident but they no longer feel invincible as they did prior to the TA&M Game.
8. How do Bama fans view the Georgia program and rivalry?
I personally think Georgia has a top tier program. The impression I get from most Bama fans is that Georgia is at the top of the second tier, below LSU, Florida, and Bama. I think this comes for the fact that UGA hasn’t won or played for a National Championship in the BCS era while the other three each have won two. However, that could all change on Saturday. This game to me is much like Bama against Florida in 2009. Just like for Bama in 2009, UGA has to opportunity to cement itself as a top program by beating last year’s BSC champion, with the winner playing in the national championship. To be the best you got to beat the best.
9. What worries you most about this game?
What worries me most is the Bama defense’s inability to get off the field on third down. In 2009 and 2011 our defense was a three and out machine. This year Bama’s quality opponents, LSU and TA&M out played them on third down. To further that fear, as I spoke about above, the slot match against Mitchell doesn’t play to Bama’s favor. The key to addressing this issue will be Bama’s ability to get pressure on the quarterback.
10. What is your honest final score prediction?
I’ve got Bama 24-17. UGA has a chance to drive late, Murray turns the ball over, and Bama picks up a first down or two rushing to run out the clock.
11. On the 8th day, did God create Alabama football?
Yes he did, and on January 3, 2007 he sent Nick Saban to save the Tide.
Overall - very fair and balanced from Matt. A few interesting notes....
-The wide receiver we all think may have missed his biggest impact with an injury (Bell), may not in fact be Bama's biggest threat in the receiving game. I'll have to keep my eye on Cooper as I hadn't previously heard much about him.
-The fear of Malcom Mitchell in the slot. He's not always utilized here so it will be telling to see whether Richt switches around some of the receivers in different positions to maximize the scheme versus Bama.
-Pretty fair assessment on Bama fans (the real ones) view of the UGA program. As we all know, and as he stated, we have all the chance in the world to change this Saturday.
-Bama fans are confident, but they've certainly earned the right to be.
-We all know the O-Line for the Dawgs needs to step up big time on Saturday, and he re-itterated this could be a problem area for the Dawgs.
-Predicting an Aaron Murray turnover on the last drive... well that certainly wouldn't help his case for never going out and winning the big game.
Good stuff by Matt, and I know he took it objectively. I'll enjoy grabbing a pre-game drink with the man on Saturday.