CFB Notebook: Can Alabama Slow Down Georgia's Pass Rush?
In what’s been a crazy week of college football we are going to dive into a couple of topics that grabbed our attention. That includes conference championship matchups, coaching changes and the transfer portal.
Alabama Must Hide Big Weakness To Surprise Georgia
If you’ve watched Alabama all season, it won’t have come as much of a surprise. Nevertheless, it was still jarring to see Auburn’s pass rush manhandle the Crimson Tide’s offensive line in last weekend’s Iron Bowl.
The signs were there as early as Week 2 when heavy underdogs Mercer found some early success against the porous unit. Chris Owens had started the year at right tackle before being replaced by Damieon George. That order has again reversed with Owens called to take over at halftime against the Tigers.
George was responsible for two sacks and a QB hit in his 32 snaps, making Derick Hall look like a world-beater. Owens fared somewhat better, but it has been a rough season for a player who spent most of his career to this point as a backup center.
Of course, Georgia will view the spot as a significant point of weakness. Although now without the suspended Adam Anderson, the Bulldogs remain almost impossible to stop on defense.
Nolan Smith is likely to test the edge and has had plenty of success this year. Recording five sacks according to PFF. At the same time, Travon Walker will work on the interior. Not only will they look to put Bryce Young under pressure, but both have stellar run-defense grades.
The biggest surprise to me is that the Crimson Tide hasn’t given any game time to the two five star recruits on the bench. Tommy Brockermeyer and JC Latham have laid dormant while the incumbents have toiled. With an SEC conference title on the line, don’t expect to see them any time soon. Ultimately could that be the downfall for this Alabama offense?
Washington Quarterback Battle Setting Up To Be Tasty
The transfer portal is open for business. With everyone getting one free pass, it threatens to be a busy offseason. Coupled with a crazy coaching carousel, you can expect to see players follow coaches to pastures new. One such instance is Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener.
His Head Coach Kalen DeBoer heads to Washington, and Haener’s arrival/return makes for an intriguing battle at quarterback. Sam Huard was billed as the Huskies’ future, but his freshman year didn’t go to plan. Washington gave him only 11 passes before throwing him into the fire against Washington State, where he threw four interceptions.
Now, the five-star recruit faces a fresh challenge with the new coach bringing in a known quantity. Jake Haener is undersized but ran the Bulldogs offense efficiently and effectively. Haener will give DeBoer a base to build on with his decent mobility, a live arm, and solid accuracy. It provides the offence with a chance to hit the ground running under a system the signal-caller is well versed in.
Huard, on paper, offers more upside, more NFL potential, but college coaches are under pressure, and the familiarity of bringing Haener on board will comfort DeBoer. If Huard is planning on three years and done at the college level, 2022 will be essential, and he is unlikely to be thrilled at the thought of bench-warming again. The ensuing battle will undoubtedly be one to earmark come springtime.
What Will The Identity Of A New Look USC & LSU Be?
Unless you live under a rock, you are well aware of the headline-grabbing coach moves this week in college football. While folk digest the ins and outs of Brian Kelly and Lincoln Riley’s new jobs, it got me thinking about the most apparent changes the two are likely to implement.
For Kelly, I’m excited to see if he can produce an offensive line that can hold up in the NFL lite world of the SEC. Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M have all recruited heavily in the trenches and finding an answer to those power defenses is key to a conference championship. Kelly has a history of producing NFL calibre linemen.
Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson and Zack Martin are just a few of the most recent alumni. The Tigers current roster isn’t particularly strong in that area, with guards Ed Ingram and Chase Hines potentially heading to the draft. Four-star freshman Garrett Dellinger is a piece to build around. Restocking both defensive and offensive lines will be vital to achieving success in Baton Rouge, and it will be exciting to see the facelift Kelly oversees.
As for Riley, his calling card in Oklahoma was his ability to hoard offensive playmakers. The Sooners used both the transfer portal and their recruiting ability to churn out multiple Heisman winners at quarterback and consistently land high profile weapons.
That looks set to continue at USC, where Riley was straight to work, flipping California natives Malachi Nelson (5* QB) and Raleek Brown (5* RB) back to the Trojans. The biggest shock would be raiding his former team for star signal-caller Caleb Williams via the transfer portal.
Even if he doesn’t, Riley will surely try and work his magic on two talented quarterbacks he will inherit. Jaxson Dart and Miller Moss were both five-star recruits in the same class and both in the top-15 at their position. Dart will be the presumed starter after some nice glimpses this year, but whoever lines up under center will be excited to work in what has been an ultra-successful scheme for developing quarterbacks.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com