By Dave Brown


Alabama Run vs. Georgia Run-Defense
EDGE: Alabama
The key to Alabama success this Saturday will be their running game. The Tide has two All- American Offensive Linemen, Wesley Britt and Justin Smiley, who routinely open huge holes on the left side. Shaud Williams is their featured back. He has explosive speed and is a threat to go all the way on any play, as seen in the Arkansas game. However, the key to Alabama victory is ball control. To succeed, they need to control the clock and that means using their bigger backs, Ray Hudson and Kenneth Darby. In their two wins, Alabama averaged 51 runs per game and used all three backs effectively. In their three losses, they only ran the ball an average of 29 times and Hudson and Darby were both forgotten.

Georgia's defense is led by All American David Pollack. He has a tremendous nose for the ball and how to stop running backs for negative gains. If Britt and Smiley can contain him, Alabama may be able to control the clock. The key to beating Georgia is to keep their potent offense off the field. They have a couple of key defensive starters injured, which will help the Tide's cause. DT Ken Veal is out and is being replaced by Redshirt Freshman Ray Gant. Also, Safety Kentrell Curry, one of the team's senior leaders, is out for the remainder of the season.

Alabama will run away from Pollack. Hopefully, Coach Shula learned a lesson from last week's disaster against Arkansas. With a 21-point lead in the third quarter, Shula completely forgot about Hudson and his power running game. Arkansas came back and won in OT. Look for Hudson, Darby and even FB Tony Castille to get a lot of carries and in attempt to milk the clock and keep the Dawg offense off the field.


Georgia Run vs. Alabama Run-Defense
EDGE: Georgia
Georgia should see the return of Tony Milton this week. In his absence, Michael Cooper and Ronnie Powell have been getting most of the carries. Both have performed well, save their poor blocking. Tyson Browning returned from a suspension last week and ran a screen pass 93 yards for a game tying TD against LSU. However, LSU held the Dawgs below 100 rushing yards for the first time this year. With Milton and Browning back, Alabama will not repeat that effort.

Alabama's D-Line is banged up. Ahmaad Childress and Jeremy Clark were injured and are questionable for Saturday. Their linebackers are talented, but not big. The defense was outstanding in their first three games holding South Florida, Oklahoma, and Kentucky to a total of 151 rushing yards. However, they may be wearing out - Northern Illinois and Arkansas used power running up the middle to tire out this depleted unit. Even when they were down by 21 points in the second half, Arkansas keenly continued to pound the front seven. Alabama's lack of depth on the line and lack of size at LB really was the deciding factor in this game.

Look for Georgia to run Milton, Browning, Cooper, and Powell right at the Alabama front. If successful, Alabama will be forced to move their safeties up to assist against the run. This will expose their secondary to David Greene's aerial assault.


Alabama Pass vs. Georgia Pass-Defense
EDGE: Even
Brodie Croyle leads a passing attack that produces big plays. Alabama has a knack for lulling defenses to sleep only to strike deep. Croyle hit Arkansas two times for long scores- an 80-yard pass to Shaud Alexander on a third and one shocked the Hogs. Triandos Luke, Brandon Greer, Zach Fletcher, and Fulgham are a talented corps of receivers who will test the Georgia secondary, which will be without Curry.

Georgia has a stingy defense. However, if there is one weakness, it is depth at the safety position. Kentrell Curry is a leader and will be missed. His replacement is Sean Jones. Safety Thomas Davis was set to start at linebacker but remained in the secondary because of the injuries. Davis has explosive speed and will soon be a household name in the SEC. Reserve DeMario Minter is also out, indefinitely. But don't feel sorry for the Bulldogs just yet, for they have given up just 34 points in four games.

Alabama's key to success will be to establish the run. If they can force Jones and Davis up to the line of scrimmage, Alabama should be able to strike deep. Alabama will use play-action to set up any deeper tries.


Georgia Pass vs. Alabama Pass-Defense
Big Edge: Georgia

WR Fred Gibson is expected to be back for the Bulldogs. He is a big-play receiver who will require some UGA safety help to keep him from striking deep. More importantly for David Greene and the Georgia aerial assault is the possible return of tailback Tony Milton. Milton is an excellent blocker. Last week, LSU was able to pressure Greene and force two INTs. The Georgia backs were unable to block the blitzer and Greene felt the heat. If Milton and Gibson are back and healthy, look for the Dawgs to light up the Athens sky.

Alabama's defensive backs are talented yet small. Charlie Peprah (5'10") and Anthony Madison (5'8") are going to have big trouble with the 6'4" Gibson and 6'1" Reggie Brown. They will both need help - neither wants to be stuck in man-to-man.

Georgia has struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone this year. They have only scored seven TDs in 17 attempts. With the extra week of practice, Richt has focused on his Red Zone efficiency. Look for Greene to throw the fade to Gibson until it works, over the shorter Tide CBs.


Special Teams
Edge: Georgia

Both kickers are looking forward to kickoff. Georgia's All-American PK Billy Bennett is coming off of his worst career outing. He missed three out of four FGAs against LSU. Georgia also gave up a costly 48-yard return against LSU that set up the game-winning touchdown.

Alabama's PK Brian Bostick missed a 38 yarder in OT that would have given the Tide a victory against Arkansas. He had made 8-of-10 prior to that miss. It may be a little easier for Bennett and the Georgia special team units to bounce back at home.


Final Thoughts

Georgia is mad. They believe they were the better team two weeks ago in Baton Rouge. Even with their injuries, they outplayed LSU only to lose the game. They have had two weeks to prepare for Alabama. Mark Richt is an excellent coach who has his team focused on another SEC title. The Dawgs are getting healthy and that's not good for an Alabama team that is hobbling into Athens.

Similarly, the Tide couldn't have had a more devastating loss than what happened against Arkansas. Leading by 21 in the middle of the third, they let Cedric Cobbs literally run over their tired defense. After whiffing and then making a great defensive stop in the first OT, they were flagged for excessive celebration, which forced them to start the second OT at the 40. Bostick then missed the subsequent 38-yard FGA, and Arkansas scored to take the victory.

After five straight home games, Alabama has to travel for the first time. Don't expect a vacation in Athens. Georgia rolls over the Tide…

Dave's Pick: Georgia 30, Alabama 10