2022 CFP National Championship Game: Alabama vs Georgia Part II

As the saying goes, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Although the world has changed over the past four years, college football presents a constant: Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

In the College Football Playoff’s eight-year history, the Tide have made a record seven appearances in the post-season tournament. Their three national championships are the most of any program in the same timeframe.

When a single program and coaching staff has been featured on the sport’s biggest stage, as much as Alabama and Saban have, certain things become routine, and staying focused on the task at hand becomes paramount.

Coach Saban commented, “Our players have done a pretty good job of trying to stay focused on what they need to stay focused on, but I think that’s really one of the keys in these kinds of games is can you stay focused on what you need to do to try to execute and play well against a very, very good team. So that will be the challenge for us as well.”

Furthermore, the measuring stick for what constitutes a successful year can change with such staggering levels of success.

Saban explained, “I think my definition of a successful season would be that every player in the organization, every player on the team would actually maximize his full potential based on his competitive character, discipline, work ethic, ability to overcome adversity, resiliency to persevere and do things that are going to create value for him and his future.

“We all get judged as coaches on how many games we win and lose. But I think if maybe everybody on your team has the right competitive character, attitude, discipline, whatever you want to talk about, that that will give you the best chance to maximize the team’s chances to be successful.

Saban concluded, “I don’t know how that equates into wins and losses.”

Despite entering the game as the defending national champions, the Tide are in unfamiliar territory: entering the game as the perceived underdog. The last time that occurred? Earlier this season in the SEC Championship Game, in which Alabama thoroughly defeated the Bulldogs.

Georgia has re-emerged as a significant player on the national stage since the arrival of Kirby Smart from Alabama in 2016. Undoubtedly, Smart would love to flip the script on the Tide.

Regarding the Bulldogs’ emergence, Saban remarked on his former protégé, “I think the University of Georgia, Kirby’s program is probably one of the elite programs in the country. We certainly feel like this is the best team in the country that we have an opportunity to play, the most consistent team all season long, in terms of how they played.”

Coach Smart commented, “My biggest goal was to be successful when I came to Georgia. I was very fortunate to work under some really good head coaches, the likes of Coach Saban, Coach Bowden, Coach Richt and my father. And a lot of those people impacted me.

Smart continued, “The goal was to have a successful program…If you recruit well, have good coaches, have good development, good strength program you’re going to have a chance at success. And that was certainly the goal from the outset.”

Monday’s National Championship Game in Indianapolis features the third rematch of a past CFP title game, with Alabama and Clemson contesting the first two occurrences.

Regarding what’s changed since the first CFP championship matchup between the two in January 2018, Coach Smart said, “I think I’ve got a staff of great coaches and I’ve got an organization that’s full of good leaders. And trust in those people maybe more now than in 2017 when I felt like I needed to micromanage and be over the top of everything.

Smart expounded, “Probably now a little more comfortable delegating things out and trusting people to do their jobs and maybe imparting a little bit of their personality into their parts of the organization.”

Flashing back to 2018, the Bulldogs controlled the game throughout the first 30 minutes until Tua Tagovailoa replaced Jalen Hurts following halftime. The game wasn’t decided until overtime when Tagovailoa hit future Heisman winner DeVonta Smith in stride for a 41-yard score to clinch the game.

Unit Breakdown: 2017 vs. 2021

2017-2018 Offense: Alabama – 15th | Georgia – 20th

2017-2018 Defense: Alabama – 1st | Georgia – 6th

2021-2022 Offense: Alabama – 3rd | Georgia – 9th

2021-2022 Defense: Alabama – 13th | Georgia – 1st

Georgia’s top-ranked defense has the potential to play a critical role Monday night. If they’re able to control the line of scrimmage and let their offense dictate the flow of the game, they will have an opportunity to conquer their SEC rivals en route to their first national championship in more than 40 years.

Alabama’s high-powered offense led by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young will look to wear down the Bulldog defense. If Alabama can control the passing game in the same manner as the SEC Championship Game against the Georgia defense, it could be a long night for the Dawgs.

All in all, we should be in for a great national championship game featuring two perennial powers of college football.

Written by Greg Atkins

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