Well, so much for Nick Saban restoring Alabama to glory in his first year. Neither the offense nor the defense were very good last night in regulation but they managed to capitalize on some Bulldog receivers who couldn’t catch the ball to limp into OT tied 20-20. They finally fell to Georgia in overtime after a pitiful offensive showing forced them to kick a field goal while an even worse defensive performance gave up a 25-yard TD on the very first play.
Georgia halts Alabama’s run at comeback with TD pass (Paul Gattis, Huntsville Times):
The 22nd-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday night handed the Crimson Tide its first loss under coach Nick Saban, getting a 25-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Mikey Henderson for a 26-23 overtime victory.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed about the outcome of the game,” Saban said. “There are a lot of lessons about the way we played in the first half. I was concerned with the intensity we prepared for and the focus and the concentration we had in practice. We harped on it and I think it showed in our first-half performance.”
Georgia led 10-3 at the half and dominated the game over the first 30 minutes.
“That was the worst we’ve played all year long,” Saban said of the first half, “not only in terms of our ability to execute but also the intensity and the toughness. The look in our eye wasn’t what it needs to be.”
No. 16 Alabama tied it at 20-all on a 6-yard touchdown run by John Parker Wilson with 1:09 left to play to overcome a 20-10, fourth-quarter deficit. But the Tide offense could manage only a 42-yard field goal by Leigh Tiffin in overtime for a 23-20 lead and Georgia immediately went for the win.
So, just a week after its last-second touchdown that beat Arkansas, the Tide (3-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) tasted the bitter side of such a loss as a stunned sellout crowd of more than 92,000 at Bryant-Denny Stadium looked on.
Loss to Bulldogs should snap Tide fans back to reality (Ian Rapoport, Birmingham News)
It was a week filled with boundless optimism from fans and seemingly endless national attention.
All the while, in his quest for realism, University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban used every opportunity to deliver his message: Don’t pay attention to any of it.
Assume players and fans understand now.
All it took was the 16th-ranked Crimson Tide’s 26-23 loss to No.22 Georgia in overtime Saturday night in front of a soldout crowd of 92,318 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The image of Bulldogs receiver Mikey Henderson beating UA cornerback Lionel Mitchell for a 25-yard touchdown pass in overtime will contribute to Saban’s message. Not that it makes a loss like Saturday’s any easier to swallow.
“I always talk about getting better when you win and not getting distracted by external things like where you are ranked or what people are saying off talk radio,” Saban said. “Sometimes you get a little relieved and satisfied with what you’ve done and you’re not as willing and as hungry to do it the next time.”
With Georgia up 20-10 in the fourth quarter, Alabama marched back with a Leigh Tiffin 22-yard field goal with six minutes left and a 6-yard scramble by quarterback John Parker Wilson with 1:09 left. When a 47-yard field goal attempt by Georgia’s Brandon Coutu went wide left, it was on to overtime.
Alabama had the ball first, but managed only a field goal. Henderson’s catch, on Georgia’s first play, ended it.
“That’s the advantage when you play defense first, you know what you need,” said Saban, after his first loss at UA. “Their guy made a good throw and they beat us one-on-one. It wasn’t bad coverage, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Not by a long shot.
It was too much to expect for Saban to come in and fix all that ailed the Tide in one season, especially since he came in near the tail end of the recruiting cycle. Still, the nature of college ball is that you can dream about championships until losing the first game.
Of course, the down side of the college game is that one loss, even early in the season, effectively ends any hope of a title, mythical or otherwise. If the team learns from the loss and gets better, they could conceivably play for the SEC title, which would be an awesome consolation prize. They’ll have to knock off LSU to do that, however. After last night’s performance, that sure doesn’t seem likely.
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