Players to watch: Breaking down the players who need to have a big game against GeorgiaBy Matthew Speakman | 01/09/2018 7:53am
Alabama defeated Clemson in the Sugar Bowl to advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Story lines have been running wild leading up to tonight’s College Football Playoff national championship. Alabama’s injuries, Georgia’s running backs and the relationship between Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart have all been at the fore front of an interesting matchup.
Still, with all of that going on, the players still have to play. The Crimson Tide will need some of its role players and superstars to have big games if it wants to capture a 17th national championship.
Here are some players to keep an eye on for Alabama:
RB Bo Scarbrough
Scarbrough hasn’t quite carried the success of his playoff run in 2017 over to this season, but there is no doubt he can still be a force for Alabama. This season, Scarbrough has yet to reach 100 yard in any game this year, and only had 24 yards last week against Clemson. But, when the stage is big, Scarbrough loves to show up.
Last year, Scarbrough had 364 yards in three postseason games. That included a 91-yard, two-touchdown performance against Clemson in the national championship. While he has struggled this season, if he can have a good performance, it will go a long way for Alabama. When he’s on, Damien Harris and him can be one of the better duos in the country.
OL J.C. Hassenauer
On Saturday, Saban confirmed that right guard Lester Cotton will miss the national championship. That means Hassenauer will have to fill in on another spot on the offensive line. He’s officially a backup center, but he can move throughout the line. When right guard Ross Pierschbacher got injured against Mississippi State, Hassenauer filled in for him.
He then started the next two games at that position and even earned SEC offensive lineman of the week. He will go against one of the best front sevens in the country. If he holds up, it means good things for Alabama.
LB Terrell Lewis
Along with Cotton, linebacker Anfernee Jennings will be out against Alabama. Behind him is Jamey Mosely and Lewis. Lewis has the size of a defensive end (6-foot-5, 254 pounds) and predominantly rushes the passes. Tonight, he will have to be an every-down player for the Crimson Tide. Lewis has the potential to change the game as a pass rusher. Now that he’s finally healthy, keep an eye out for him against a fairly immobile quarterback like Jake Fromm.
WRs Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith
This season, it’s really only been Calvin Ridley catching passes for Alabama. The team has had difficulties spreading the ball around in the passing game. Ridley has 46 more catches than the next wide receiver. Despite that, Alabama’s trio of freshmen receivers have shown flashes of greatness year. Ruggs III has five touchdowns despite only having nine catches all season.
Jeudy and Smith look like they will also develop into playmakers. Having those three is a blessing for Alabama, but getting them the ball could be crucial. If Georgia locks down Ridley, they will need quarterback Jalen Hurts to complete passes to the talented freshmen.
LB Rashaan Evans
Evans is Alabama’s senior leader in the middle. In two national championships, he has 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He loves to show up when the lights are the brightest. Alabama definitely benefits from having a player like Evans in the middle. Since he started as a pass rusher, the Crimson Tide loves to move him around and utilize him on third down in that role.
His speed is second-to-none. Like Lewis, Evans could have a big game against Fromm, who struggles to move outside of the pocket. Look for him to have a big performance for Alabama.