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Alabama 41, Georgia 24: Three things we learned in the Crimson Tide's big victory

Alabama Georgia

Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) fights for yardage.

TUSCALOOSA — Trailing for nearly the entire second quarter was not enough to throw off Alabama, as the Tide turned it on for 14 unanswered points in the third quarter.

Here are three things we learned from No. 2 Alabama’s 41-24 victory over No. 3 Georgia on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium:

1. Alabama’s defense fails in the simple things

Georgia averaged 4.8 yards a carry on run schemes that are both relatively simple and attack inside linebackers, and did it all with the benefit of big explosive runs.

There was also the matter of the offside penalty on fourth-and-1 late in the second quarter, one that turned a likely field goal attempt into a Georgia touchdown.

Struggling against two offensive savants such as Jimbo Fisher and Lane Kiffin could have been a diversion, a way to assign blame elsewhere, but the most recent performance reinforces a different reality: the Crimson Tide defense struggles with elementary execution, often in ways that prove critical.

Tide coach Nick Saban is not blind to this fact: he said Monday he believes the defensive play calls are good, with execution of said calls being the culprit.

2. Boom or bust is OK with this team

Alabama’s offense spent most of the first quarter floundering, even if looking past the interception on the first play. A short field granted by an interception and 40-yard touchdown pass to John Metchie III were the outliers: in UA’s next three possessions, it ran 15 plays for 73 yards and punted three times.

Then, the big plays started to hit.

A 38-yard pass to Jaylen Waddle spurred the Crimson Tide to five more plays that gained 37 yards and a game-tying touchdown. The 90-yard touchdown connection with Waddle gave UA its first lead in nearly two quarters.

Efficiency is a good quality in an offense, but when an offense is as explosive as UA’s is, it doesn’t have to be efficient to score, and score in bunches.

3. Life without LaBryan Ray is tough

This was proven last year, when his season-ending injury in the third game of the year forced Alabama into sizable snap counts for freshmen. A year later, those freshmen are now sophomores with experience, and the Tide still does not have a clear answer of how to play without Ray.

Christian Barmore was the starter in his place and saw his usage increase, but the Crimson Tide also turned to freshmen Tim Smith and Jamil Burroughs — rarely seen before — for important snaps.

Alabama had no trouble defining its rotation with Ray in the mix; redefining it could take some figuring out as Burroughs, Smith and Barmore get on-the-job tryouts.