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Jumbo Package: Saban, Smart show mutual respect ahead of SEC Championship

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone. A few notes for you on SEC Championship week.

Georgia’s defense has played against four offenses currently in the top 50 in yards gained: Florida (12th), Tennessee (18th), Arkansas (30th) and Kentucky (45th).

Alabama’s defense ranks seventh among FBS teams in yards allowed per game (294.2) and 20th in points allowed per game (19.9). The only comparable defense Georgia has played is Clemson, which ranks ninth in yards allowed (308.4) and second in points allowed (15.0).

Alabama’s defense has played against six offenses currently in the top 50 in yards gained: Ole Miss (5th), Florida (12th), Tennessee (18th), Mississippi State (22nd), Miami (23rd) and Arkansas (30th).

You could also say that Alabama has played six offenses currently ranked in the top 30 while Georgia has played three. Lots of interesting stuff in there, but the points allowed stand out as the main difference between these teams. Alabama’s penchant for a couple of bonehead plays a game in the secondary explains being 7th in yards allowed but only 20th in scoring defense. We’ve said it a thousand times, but if they can play 60 minutes without a coverage bust, they can be as good as anyone in the country on defense.

Can they finally do it on Saturday?

Saban spoke with reporters as usual for a Monday.

— Saban said Georgia’s defense is No. 1 in the nation and that “speaks for itself.”

— Saban said Brian Robinson has a lower body pulled muscle. “We’ll kind of see how he progresses through the course of the week and see where he’s at,” Saban said.

— Saban said it is difficult to say how players physically will respond after a four-overtime Iron Bowl, and that both teams had to play Saturday. “These guys are young, so they got plenty of time to recover.”

If Trey Sanders ends up as the last man standing for the SEC Championship, may he have a moment. That kid has been through the ringer. I don’t know if the way the Iron Bowl went down is good or bad for Alabama’s psyche. They could be energized from it or emotionally drained. The entire press conference is embedded below.

Alabama has a few dudes in the transfer portal.

Former five-star offensive lineman Pierce Quick and linebacker Jackson Bratton joined receiver Xavier Williams and defensive back Marcus Banks in the portal Monday, multiple outlets reported.

Quick, a Hewitt-Trussville graduate, was a 2019 signee and an early commit when he pledged to the Tide on April 22, 2017. He rose as high as the No. 23 in the overall 2019 rankings in the 247Sports composite before arriving as the No. 40 prospect in the class.

Hate to see guys feel the need to leave, but all are understandable.

Mark Schlabach wonders if Alabama can block Georgia.

“I don’t know how you guys look at it, but that’s a really tough place to play — so is A&M,” Smart said. “That doesn’t fall on deaf ears with our staff, and [we] understand probably two of the hardest places to play in the country are right there. We haven’t been to A&M, but I’ve been to A&M, and we’ve always gone to Auburn. It’s a tough environment.”

Still, Alabama has allowed 35 sacks, 2.92 per game, which is tied for 108th in the FBS.

Bryce hasn’t helped with some of those sacks, as Saban also mentioned yesterday.

Last, this is a very bad Heisman take.

That the Iron Bowl was a struggle doesn’t change the bottom line: Alabama is in with a win against Georgia in the SEC championship game and very likely out with a loss. A victory would lock down the Heisman Trophy for Bryce Young, who had a defining moment in his late touchdown drive against the Tigers. A convincing Georgia win could open that race to Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.

Come on, now. Aidan Hutchinson? He of 54 tackles, 14.6 TFL and 12 sacks to Will Anderson’s 76, 25.5 and 13? Surely you jest.

That’s about it for now. Have a great day.

Roll Tide.