ATLANTA — The final one out of a jubilant Alabama locker room, Nick Saban walked slowly out of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium hall nodding his head like a proud father.
Proud of his soccer workforce. Proud of the way in which his soccer workforce has fought to get so far regardless of some un-Alabama-like moments this season. Proud of the way in which his soccer workforce has rallied round a sophomore quarterback who may as properly have struck the Heisman Trophy pose on Saturday night time.
Bryce Young was that good, that poised and that dynamic in Alabama’s 41-24 SEC championship recreation dissection of No. 1 Georgia.
Even for Saban, it is simple to overlook typically that Young is simply a sophomore and solely in his first 12 months because the Crimson Tide’s beginning quarterback after enjoying backup to Mac Jones a 12 months in the past.
“He’s very calm, has a nice disposition about what he is doing, does not get pissed off too simply, but additionally does not get too excited very simply,” Saban advised ESPN. “That’s a uncommon mixture, particularly for a man who’s in his first 12 months as a starter and enjoying in opposition to a protection pretty much as good as Georgia’s.
“But that is the way in which he all the time is, and it does not actually matter who we’re enjoying or what the scenario is. The different factor is that he does a nice job making ready for the sport, each recreation, and that is the sort of factor that wears off on everyone else. I feel you noticed that tonight.”
So did the remainder of the faculty soccer world, as Young torched a Georgia protection that was considered untorchable. He handed for 421 yards and three touchdowns and additionally ran for a rating. His 461 yards of complete offense set an SEC championship recreation report.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart was already a believer. But there’s one thing to be mentioned for watching a Heisman-like efficiency from the sideline and seeing someone do to your protection what no person else had come near doing all season.
“Look, guys, I’ve seen a lot of fine ones on this league. He’s particular,” Smart mentioned of Young, who wasn’t sacked a single time on Saturday after being sacked seven occasions a week in the past in a 24-22 four-overtime win in opposition to Auburn.
And, positive, Smart watched that tape, and Georgia did some various things to stress Young. But little or no appeared to work, as Young, his receivers and his offensive line bought the very best of a Georgia entrance seven that had been dominant in opposition to everyone this season.
“We referred to as a lot of the identical calls we referred to as the opposite video games,” mentioned Smart, whose protection gave up 4 touchdowns to Alabama after permitting simply seven within the earlier 12 video games.
“We did not get dwelling or end on the quarterback, and he was elite at getting the ball to the playmakers. He knew the place to go along with the ball. He retains his eyes downfield with the frenzy, the place a lot of quarterbacks would not do this. They’d have a look at the frenzy and begin attempting to run away from the frenzy, and we may run ’em down. But tonight, he did a super job. He was cell and made a lot of performs.”
But then, that is what Young has accomplished all season lengthy, be it his 28-yard landing move to Ja’Corey Brooks to pressure extra time in opposition to Auburn and even these occasions this season when Alabama was sputtering on offense and he did simply sufficient.
AP Photo/John Bazemore
“It’s by no means too huge for him, and he simply has that means about him that the opposite guys fall in line even once we’ve had our struggles,” Saban mentioned.
Young, who has thrown 43 landing passes and simply 4 interceptions this season, was virtually nonchalant on Saturday when requested about something he had accomplished to steer Alabama to its sixth SEC championship up to now eight years. He was extra keen to speak about his teammates.
“I feel all of us stepped up, and all of us answered the bell,” Young mentioned. “We all understood what was at stake. We all understood that we wanted to step up. So, I’m blessed to have the teammates that I do, that when our again’s sort of in opposition to the wall, we perceive … we have to get our spark and begin transferring.
“I’m comfortable we began getting going once we did.”
Young spearheaded a 24-point second quarter for the Crimson Tide with one huge play after one other, whether or not he was hitting deep balls with pinpoint precision, scrambling and making performs along with his legs and even flipping possibility pitches to Brian Robinson Jr. within the open area.
“He’s grown a lot and has a knack for making these performs, however what’s actually spectacular is that he is not careless and takes care of the soccer,” Saban mentioned.
Even when Young did fumble the ball as soon as on Saturday after taking off and working, he was capable of wrestle it again from a Georgia defender. Young additionally misplaced one in all his high receivers, John Metchie III, within the first half to what Alabama officers worry is a torn ACL. But it did not actually matter. Jameson Williams completed with seven catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
Alabama carved aside the Georgia secondary with huge performs, and Saban mentioned a giant a part of the credit score goes to an offensive line that took it on the chin a week in the past and got here again with one thing to show.
“It nonetheless goes again to the offensive line did a very, excellent job of permitting us to get the ball down the sphere and our receivers having the ability to work within the passing recreation, which we knew was going to be one thing that was actually necessary on this recreation,” Saban mentioned. “So, it actually began up entrance.”
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One longtime defensive coordinator advised ESPN that the way in which Alabama put Young in a place to seek out the holes in Georgia’s protection was one thing no person else had been capable of do to the Dawgs this season.
“Doug Marrone [Alabama offensive line coach] and Bill O’Brien [offensive coordinator] confirmed their worth tonight, the worth of getting NFL expertise,” the defensive coordinator mentioned. “They knew the place the blitz was coming from, re-identified safety and blocked the pressures.
“[Young] has been taught properly. When Georgia lined up, he knew the place the matchups had been and attacked Georgia the way in which no person else had this 12 months.”
And whereas the remainder of the nation may not have seen Alabama’s beatdown of Georgia coming, Young did not sound too stunned about it.
“As a participant, we all the time have religion and confidence within the teaching employees,” Young mentioned. “So, for us, I do not assume we ever actually blinked or wavered.”
With Metchie injured, Alabama needed to dive deeper into its depth chart, particularly at receiver, and it’s going to have to take action once more through the College Football Playoff with Metchie doubtless misplaced for the season.
But as Saban identified, therein lies the added worth of getting a participant like Young who makes everyone else round him higher.
“… A great quarterback could make receivers look good, and these guys need to run good routes and do issues the precise strategy to get open,” Saban mentioned. “But I feel his religion, belief and confidence in these guys have helped their improvement tremendously.”
And the way in which Young has developed, the very best is likely to be but to return this season for Alabama.
Not to say the primary Heisman Trophy for an Alabama quarterback.