December 1, 2012
Two-point conversion proves pivotal for Alabama
ATLANTA | In a game that featured 60 points and over 900 yards of offense, it was only worth two of those points and 3 of those yards.
But the University of Alabama's two-point conversion to pull within 21-18 in the third quarter had a clear impact on the outcome and was among the most crucial play calls in the Crimson Tide's 32-28 win Saturday.
It allowed the Crimson Tide go ahead by four points twice in the second half with touchdowns, and ultimately put Georgia's offense in a position at the end of the game in which a field goal would not help.
And that allowed the Crimson Tide, knowing the Bulldogs had to have a touchdown, to play a bit differently defensively.
Even though the clock was far from a factor with 4:19 left in the third quarter, the Crimson Tide opted for a two-point try after T.J. Yeldon's touchdown pulled UA within 21-16. The play call went back to Yeldon, straight up the middle, for the conversion and a 21-18 deficit.
"I always say, go for it late in the third quarter or the fourth quarter," UA coach Nick Saban said. "It was late in the third quarter. There's four minutes to go or something like that in the third quarter, so (we) got the numbers in our favor."
A direct run on a two-point play made something of a statement for the Alabama offense. On a day when the Crimson Tide rolled up 350 rushing yards, Yeldon's two-pointer sent a message that the Crimson Tide could get the offense it needed with the simplest of play calls.
"We knew we wanted to come out and run the ball in the second half," center Barrett Jones said.
A few other coaching decisions that impacted the outcome:
Saban's halftime remarks indicated he thought Alabama could have created a better chance to score a touchdown before the half by using another timeout. The Crimson Tide's last chance to get some value out of a timeout came after T.J. Yeldon's 3-yard run to the Georgia 36 in the final minute of the half.
"They held the snap there at the end," Saban said. "We should have just called a timeout, so we lost some time there, it was my fault."
The Crimson Tide got to the Georgia 5 on a 22-yard scramble by quarterback AJ McCarron, but by the time that play ended, UA only had time for a short field-goal attempt.
Jeremy Shelley converted it for a 10-7 lead.
Georgia fake punt
Facing a fourth-and-10 from the Alabama 36 in the first half, Georgia ran a fake punt with a throw over the middle from upback Arthur Lynch to Sanders Commings. It gave the Bulldogs the strongest momentum of the game to that point, setting up a first-and-10 from the UA 20. Aaron Murray cashed that momentum for seven points with a touchdown pass to Jay Rome two plays later.
Earlier in the game, Alabama attempted a fake punt with a fourth-and-1 rush by Vinnie Sunseri, but a presnap penalty not only cost UA the first down but the element of surprise as well. UA then punted on fourth-and-6.
Nussmeier dials long distance
With Alabama's offense grasping for a spark, trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier called a deep route for wide receiver Amari Cooper. The freshman caught a 44-yard pass over Georgia defensive back Bacarri Rambo. The play didn't key a scoring drive, but it did flip field position and started a lengthy possession that gave the Alabama defense some much-needed rest.
Cooper finished with 127 receiving yards.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.
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