Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports spoke with three assistant college football coaches who have studied and are knowledgeable on both Alabama and Georgia football this year. The three coaches picked a winner for Monday night’s national championship game and gave key factors as to why which team will win.
Out of the three coaches questioned, two picked Alabama and one picked Georgia.
The two coaches who chose the Tide predicted a close game and cited multiple similarities between the two teams. Neither gave either team a big edge.
The one coach who picked Georgia gave his reasoning:
The coach who picked Georgia felt like Alabama didn’t have the same personnel, especially rushing the quarterback, that it has had the past four or five years. Alabama has been vulnerable to play-action this season, leaving it susceptible to deep shots. “The thing about them is that the way their defense is structured, you can get one-one-ones with safeties with your slot,” the coach said.
The Georgia defense has been impressive, as the scheme is geared around freeing up an impressive linebacking crew – led by projected top-10 pick Roquan Smith – to scramble around and make plays. “There’s no weakness, they’re very sound,” the coach said. “I have a lot of respect for that defense. There’s just never any guys open. I have a lot of respect for their linebackers. They were the best linebackers I’ve seen in a long, long time.” (A different coach pointed out that the biggest play from the Rose Bowl was Smith’s stuff of a wide receiver hand-off on third-and-2, a remarkable stick that forced a field goal in overtime.)
One of the most interesting quotes to come from the story revolved around Kirby Smart and Nick Saban’s close relationship, as Smart coached under Saban for nearly a decade in Tuscaloosa. Does the coaches’ pre-existing relationship give either the edge?
“I think Kirby has the upper hand in this,” one coach said. “Kirby knows Nick like a book, where Nick knows Kirby, but he doesn’t know him as a head coach.”