Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban will look across the field on Saturday and see one of his former assistant coaches for the third week in a row.
At his Monday press conference, Saban previewed the matchup and talked about the job Kirby Smart has done during his tenure at Georgia.
“This is an outstanding Georgia team,” outlined Saban. “Kirby has done an outstanding job there.”
Having put up 44 points against Tennessee, more conversation than anticipated has revolved around Georgia’s offense following a slow start to the season.
“Offensively, they have been able to really control the ball. They are one of the leading teams in the country in time of possession,” Saban asserted.
The Bulldogs offense is currently ranked fifth in the nation in time of possession.
Saban also spoke approvingly of the job done at quarterback by Stetson Bennett, a former walk-on who sat as low as fourth on the preseason depth chart.
“He’s done an outstanding job,” offered Saban. “He’s played within himself, made good choices and decisions. They’ve had great balance in their offense, they’ve got good play-action passes.”
The Tide’s head man described Bennett along the lines of the game-managing quarterback which used to be a staple in Saban’s own system.
“He’s really just facilitated everything that he’s needed to do from his position to help all the other good players that they have make a lot of plays,” said Saban. “And he’s athletic, he’s extended plays at times. I think the guy has done an outstanding job and has really executed well for them.”
Yet, defense is still the calling card for Smart’s team, a unit Saban regarded as “maybe the best defensive team in the country.”
The numbers support Saban’s assertion, too. The Bulldogs currently stand second in the country in total defense and fifth in scoring defense.
As a former defensive coordinator to Saban, the comparison between the style of defenses played at each school is inevitable.
Saban indicated it is not that easy of a comparison to make.
“I think there are some similarities, but they have sort of progressed in what they do relative to the players they have,” he explained. “And I think they do it really, really well. They’ve got some new things and some different things that they do which is what we’re all trying to be able to grow and develop in. I think they have a veteran team. So when you have a veteran team on defense, I think you can do a little more. And I think they have taken good advantage of having good players who have experience and those guys execute those things extremely well.”
He also believes Georgia’s defense has adjusted its approach to handle evolving college football offenses.
“It is difficult, the run-pass conflicts that are created,” observed Saban. “But I think they’ve done as good a job as anybody of being able to make those adaptations.”
Smart’s defense faces its most stern test against a Tide offense operating at a break-neck pace.
The Crimson Tide lead the nation in scoring offense and are ranked third in total offense.
Quarterback Mac Jones is leading the nation in passing efficiency by a fairly wide margin. He is second in passing yards per completion, averaging nearly 17 yards per completion.