TUSCALOOSA — Alabama has lost receiver Kenny Bell for the rest of the year with a broken left leg.
“He’s going to have a rod put in his tibia,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Doc thinks it’s probably five to six weeks with that injury before he can start running. He’s going to be out.”
Bell provided Alabama with its best deep threat at receiver. Although he had caught only 17 passes this season, he averaged 25.4 yards a reception.
“He was a playmaker,” Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said. “We’ll miss him. We need the young guys to step up.”
In addition, Alabama backup noseguard Brandon Ivory twisted his ankle.
“I think he will be OK,” Saban said.
Georgia next for Tide
Alabama (11-1) will make its eighth appearance in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, but this is the first time the Crimson Tide will play somebody other than Florida. This time, the opponent is Georgia (11-1). Kickoff is 3 p.m. in Atlanta on CBS.
After beating Auburn, McCarron said he wasn’t ready to talk about facing the Bulldogs.
“The 24-hour rule,” he said, smiling.
Saban allows his players to celebrate a win or absorb a loss for 24 hours before moving on.
Alabama guard Chance Warmack, who is from Atlanta, said he is looking forward to playing Georgia.
“Georgia is a really physical team, and we know going into this game that we are going to have to do a lot of new things in terms of practicing the scheme and figuring out what they are going to offer us in terms of defense,” he said. “We should be ready for that challenge.”
Alabama used an uptempo offensive attack Saturday, and Saban said the Crimson Tide ran it well.
“We had a good plan,” he said. “We went a little up-tempo to avoid having bad plays and everybody did a good job of executing.
“AJ McCarron especially getting us in the right play and the offensive line making the right adjustments, to get a hat on a hat. We
were effective running, had pretty good protection most of the time when we threw it. We made some explosive plays both ways. I think the offensive line contributed to that significantly.”
Alabama aims to convert 45 percent
of its third-down chances on offense, but the Tide managed better than that Saturday.
Alabama converted 11 of 14, which averages out to 79 percent. The Crimson Tide made its first 11 before the reserves failed on three in a row.
Alabama converted 11 against Ole Miss earlier this year, and until Saturday, the best percentage game last week in a 49-0 win over Wester Carolina. The Tide nailed 67 percent in that one.
“I think that it’s a real key to being successful when you have success on third down and extend drives,” Saban said. “Time of possession is critical and I thought we did a really good job offensively today. A couple of those we checked to certain plays based on the look they had and it worked out well for us.”
Saban said it helped that Alabama was solid on first and second down, too.
“What you did on first and second down contributes to that as well because the chances are a lot better of converting when it’s third-and-five or less,” Saban said.
Picking off a pair
After three straight games without an interception, Alabama safety Robert Lester broke the streak by picking off a pass against Auburn.
A high pass tipped off a receivers fingers and to Lester, who returned it 31 yards. Lester also got the Tide’s last interception before Saturday, coming against Mississippi State.
“I think that it was more of them having a bad play than me making a good play,” Lester said. “I was able to be in the right place at the right time and was able to make a play.”
Later in the game, Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix intercepted a pass, too.