Dawgs Know Bama Will Be Physical

ATHENS – When Jeremy Lomax started thinking about Georgia's matchup against Alabama on Saturday, one name came to mind: Bear Bryant.

Sure, the 22-year-old Lomax isn't old enough to remember Bryant's golden age at Alabama, but he knows a good SEC turf war when he sees one, and this year's Crimson Tide rushing attack looks an awful lot like those halcyon years of Alabama football.

"They're the best we've seen, by far," Lomax said. "They're hard-nosed, Bear-Bryant football. It's a great challenge, and it's going to define our team."

While Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer have ushered in an age of aerial acrobatics and wide-open offenses, Saturday's game will be a throwback.

Alabama wants to run the football. Georgia's defense has shut down the ground game against three straight opponents. Both teams have their sights set on winning the battle at the line of scrimmage.

"We haven't played a team that was sold out to run the ball like Alabama," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. "Everyone we've played has had a pass-first mentality, but it will be a little different with this Alabama team."

Alabama has had three different running backs top 90 yards in a game so far this year, but it's junior Glen Coffee that is the Tide's home-run hitter.

Coffee has battled injuries throughout his career at Alabama, but is rounding back into form this season. He posted 162 yards on just 10 carries against the Razorbacks, including touchdown runs of 87 and 31 yards. For the season, he has 404 yards on 47 carries.

"The way he's hitting the hole, he's trusting his blockers," Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson said of Coffee. "He's got great patience. He's not making premature moves. Watching tape of this past week, he would hit the hole at the very last second when it would just open up."

In four games, Alabama has outrushed its opponents each time, including posting a whopping 328 yards on the ground last Saturday against Arkansas. The Tide have run the football more than 61 percent of the time, and nearly two-third of their offensive production this season has come on the ground.

"Every game we've played, we've come out and kind of dominated them up front," Wilson said. "By the end of the game, they didn't want to be out there. I think it's on both sides of the ball. If we can keep dictating the pace of the game like that, it makes us tough."

Of course, Arkansas hardly provided the same type of defense the Tide can expect from Georgia on Saturday.

The Bulldogs rank third in the nation in rush defense, allowing fewer than two yards per carry to opposing runners. Against Arizona State last week, Georgia allowed just four net yards on the ground.

"Our main objective as a defense is to stop the run," Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. "That's what we honed in on."

While the Tide lead the SEC in rushing offense, the Bulldogs top the conference in stopping the run, something Alabama head coach Nick Saban isn't taking lightly.

"Their defense is certainly one of the best defensive teams in the country," Saban said. "They are difficult to run against, are difficult to score against and have a lot of starters and a lot of experience back on the team."

Georgia has made a point of making opposing offenses one-dimensional so far, and defensive tackle Corvey Irvin said that will be the plan once again Saturday. The task will be a lot tougher this time around, however, thanks to Alabama's veteran offensive line and hard-nosed approach.

Irvin, however, isn't intimidated by the matchup. He's looking forward to it.

"I'm excited because I want to see what I'm made of and see what my other teammates are made of, to see where we're really at," he said. "This will be, to me, the best team we play this year."

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