Rushing offense – A
Alabama waited too long to get the ball to Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. In the second quarter, Lacy began pounding away including a 41-yard run that knotted the score at 10-7. Yeldon sets up his blocks and always seems to find the right hole. He burst into the game in the third quarter with 10-yard touchdown run and what turned out to be a critical two-point conversion. The two combined for 334 yards on 45 carries. Lacy, who was the game’s MVP with 181 yards on 20 carries for a 9.1 yard average, did cost Alabama with his extension and fumble near the goal line in the second quarter.
Rushing defense – B
Coming into the game, Todd
Gurley and Keith Marshall were statistically better than Lacy and Yeldon but Alabama didn’t allow the duo to get untracked in the first half. Gurley took over in the third quarter. On the opening drive, his three-yard, go-ahead touchdown run, jolted Alabama after nose guard Jesse Williams was shaken up. He added another go-ahead, 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give Georgia a 28-25 lead. Gurley finished with 122 yards on 23 carries but Marshall only carried the ball two times for three yards.
Passing offense – C
AJ McCarron had some problems with his accuracy early and then had a few dropped passes when he was on target. Amari Cooper must be one of the best freshman receivers in the country (seven catches for 127 yards). His 44-yard catch on basically a jump ball from McCarron was a thing of beauty and changed the game’s momentum early. His 45-yard touchdown in the final minutes put Alabama ahead for good. Jarvis Jones forced a fumble by McCarron and McCarron threw an interception into end zone (where the Tide came up scoreless on the drive after getting to Georgia’s one-yard line).
Passing defense – C
Alabama blitzed Aaron Murray relentlessly while trying not to allow him to get comfortable. Xzavier Dickson came up with two sacks including one on third down that knocked Georgia into 50-yard field goal attempt that it missed in first quarter. Nick Perry was late in coverage in giving up Georgia’s second quarter touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Jay Rome. HaHa Clinton-Dix’s interception before halftime and 35-yard return set up an Alabama field goal to take the lead going into the locker room. Alabama couldn’t put it away at the end as Georgia receivers were able to make the catch and get out of bounds.
Special teams – D
Cade Foster’s blocked field goal that was returned by Georgia’s Alec Ogletree for a touchdown changed the game. Cody Mandell was so-so and his first punt went into the end zone as Alabama missed out on a chance to pin Georgia deep after crossing midfield. Alabama had a perfect call on deciding to execute a fake punt but a delay of game call wiped it out. On the other hand, Georgia was successful on its fake punt to open the second quarter and it led to game’s first touchdown. Jeremy Shelley kept his perfect season intact with a 22-yard field goal.
Coaching – C
In the beginning, Alabama began a hurry up and no-huddle offense to limit Georgia’s substitution pattern. However, it took the Tide staff too long to realize it had the upper hand running it up the middle with Lacy and Yeldon and that falls on Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Deciding to execute a fake punt and then ending up with a delay of game penalty is a problem. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart admitted celebrating too much when he thought Dee Milliner’s interception would end the game and it nearly cost Alabama a shot in the BCS championship.
Overall – B
It wasn’t Alabama’s best game by any stretch. Georgia had a lot to do with that. Smart said “it has been a long time since an Alabama team got hit in the mouth the way we were hit today.” That’s saying something. Alabama’s turnovers were a problem as well as the blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. But in the end Alabama won the physical match-up with the running game while coming back from a 21-10 deficit and it gives the Crimson Tide a chance to defend their national title against Notre Dame while also winning the school’s third national crown in four years.