No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Georgia
What: SEC Championship Game
When: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records: Alabama 12-0, Georgia 11-1
Radio: 95.3 FM, 102.9 FM
D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield can cause Alabama double the trouble this weekend in Atlanta at the SEC Championship Game. The two Georgia running backs are on pace to crack 1,000 rushing yards this season, and that’s without breaking a sweat. They’re basically splitting time on the field.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot more,” Holyfield said. “Keeps me fresh the whole year, fresh the whole game. And it’s a chance for two really good players to play.”
That last part has proven to be true.
Swift, a sophomore, has ran the ball 139 times for 962 yards and nine touchdowns. Holyfield, a junior, has 133 carries for 896 yards and seven scores.
Those marks make Georgia one of six Football Bowl Subdivision teams with two running backs above 850 yards and the only program in the Southeastern Conference.
“Both those guys are extremely talented, ferocious competitors and both have been very, very productive,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Probably as good a duo of guys we’ve seen all year long.”
Maybe since last season’s national championship game when Georgia had Nick Chubb and Sony Michel on its roster. Chubb had 1,345 rushing yards in 2017 while Michel had 1,277.
When Chubb and Michel left – they now play in the NFL – Swift and Holyfield stepped up.
Swift is averaging 80.2 rushing yards per game, while Holyfield adds a 74.2-yard average.
Alabama has to figure out how to stop this new pair and trusts defensive lineman Quinnen Williams’ ability to break down film will help it do so.
“Me knowing football, if the running back is deep, the running back can’t run the ball sideways because he’s deep,” Williams said. “He’s got to get the ball going downhill because the quarterback can only hand the ball off a certain way. If the running back is right next to the quarterback, he can’t go downhill because he’ll have to make a curve and it will be too slow of a curve.”
Preparation is good. Execution is always better.
The Bulldogs, who have put up more than 40 points in seven games this season, are averaging 259.8 yards on the ground. The Crimson Tide has been holding opponents to an average of 114 rushing yards.
“They’re a run-heavy team, but I think we’re used to that,” UA linebacker Christian Miller said. “We go against it in practice, but you still can never be fully prepared for a running attack like that. It’s going to be important this week that we come out physical in practice. Our guys upfront need to work on getting off blocks and prepare for it as best we can.”
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.