Alabama Week: Hale's Look at the Game

ATHENS - David Hale's look at Georgia's game with Alabama.

PASSING: After last week's win at Arizona State, the one thing Georgia's offense won't be called is one-dimensional. Quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with freshman wide receiver A.J. Green for 150 first-half yards, giving the Bulldogs their first 100-yard receiver in almost two years. Green's ability to stretch the field adds another big weapon to the Georgia attack. Like the Bulldogs, Alabama has a veteran passer in John Parker Wilson and a flashy freshman receiver in Julio Jones. Wilson hasn't been asked to carry the load this year, but has looked sharp in completing nearly 60 percent of his passes with only one interception. EDGE: Georgia.

RUSHING: Buried under the details of Green's breakout performance a week ago was another 149-yard, two-touchdown performance for Knowshon Moreno. The Bulldogs tailback already has nine rushing touchdowns this season, but may find running lanes a bit harder to come by against Alabama's oversized front seven. The Crimson Tide's offense is built around the run. Junior Glen Coffee ran for 162 yards last week on just 10 carries, while Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch each have more than 180 yards on the ground this year. Alabama leads the SEC, averaging 236 yards rushing per game behind a monstrous offensive line. EDGE: Alabama.

DEFENSE: The Bulldogs' pass rush finally found the quarterback last week, sacking Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter four times. More impressive, however, was the run defense, which held the Sun Devils to just four yards on the ground. Alabama ranks 14th in total defense in the country and boasts two behemoths up the middle in 6-foot-5, 370-pound Terrence Cody (nicknamed Mount Cody) and 6-4 linebacker Rolando McClain. EDGE: Georgia.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Georgia's special teams remain a question mark. Punt and kick coverage have been spotty, giving opponents strong field position, while the return game – particularly on punts – has employed a bevy of different Bulldogs. Kicker Blair Walsh has looked sharp on field goals, however, with his only two misses coming from 52 and 54 yards. Alabama has one of the nation's most intimidating returners in junior Javier Arenas. He's a threat to take it to the end zone on each kick – something that should worry the shaky Bulldogs. EDGE: Alabama.

ONE TO WATCH: Matthew Stafford. Georgia's quarterback has been extraordinarily dependable this season, topping 200 yards passing in three of four games without an interception, but against Alabama's stingy run defense, he'll need to step up and be a star. If he can hit Green or another receiver for a few big plays early, it could really open things up for Moreno and the Georgia running attack.

OUR WRITER'S TAKE:

It's not a stat that shows up in the box score, but the number of missed opportunities for Georgia the past two weeks has been appalling. Against South Carolina, the Bulldogs had two dropped third-down passes and a dropped touchdown, among others. Last week, Georgia had two drives stall inside Arizona State's 1-yard line. As the Bulldogs have dropped from first to third in the polls, it's hard not to wonder if all the points left on the field have a lot to do with it. Against Alabama, however, it won't be just style points the Bulldogs are playing for. They'll need to cash in on every chance they get against a stout defense in what promises to be a throwback to the old smash-mouth days of SEC football.


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