Over a month ago, Alabama lost John Metchie III to a torn ACL.
Monday night, Jameson Williams was sidelined by another knee injury.
The Crimson Tide may have been able to survive one of their absences, but not both of them. Without Williams, who had a breakout season after transferring from Ohio State, Bryce Young couldn’t lift up an inexperienced receiving corps in a 33-18 loss to Georgia in the national championship game.
“Any time you lose players like this it has an impact on your team,” coach Nick Saban said.
Young was picked off twice for the first time in his career, and he was only able to get Alabama in the end zone once in four trips inside the red zone. The Heisman Trophy winner was driving the Crimson Tide for the potential game-winning score in the final minutes when he was picked off by Kelee Ringo, who took it 79 yards for the clinching touchdown.
Young completed 35 of 57 passes for 369 yards and a touchdown. He gave Alabama the lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Latu with 10:14 left. But Georgia scored the final 20 points to claim its first national title since 1980.
“We had a lot of opportunities, moved the ball relatively well. We did some stuff well,” Young said. “We didn’t execute. And at the end of the day that’s on me.
“The ball touches my hands every play. And it’s my job to put the ball into the end zone. I wasn’t able to do that tonight.”
The game took a turn early in the second quarter, when Young found Williams wide open over the middle for a 40-yard gain. But as the junior tried to make a move in the open field, he suffered a non-contact knee injury and was lost for the remainder of the game. Williams wanted to return, but Saban said Alabama trainers wouldn’t let him. The NFL draft prospect needs to get an MRI exam on the knee.
It left Young to throw to inexperienced receivers like Traeshon Holden, Ja’Corey Brooks and Agiye Hall. Hall had a killer drop in the third quarter deep in Georgia territory that would have set up Alabama to possibly go ahead by two scores. Instead, the ensuing field goal was blocked and Georgia took the lead on the following possession.
In the previous meeting against Georgia (14-1) in the SEC Championship game, Young threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns. Williams, stepping up in place of the injured Metchie, accounted for 184 of those yards and two of those touchdowns. Without him, the Bulldogs’ top-ranked scoring defense shut down Young and the Crimson Tide. Alabama (13-2) may have been able to survive without Metchie, but not Williams, too.
“It gives other players opportunities, and I’m not disappointed in how they responded to that,” Saban said, “but there’s no question that you win with great players.”
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