Traditional wisdom in the SEC says that the most experienced teams have the best shot at winning the conference.
There's certainly no shortage of veteran talent on the rosters at Alabama and Georgia. Junior QB Aaron Murray, junior LB Jarvis Jones and senior S Bacarri Rambo are among the top players for the Bulldogs. Junior QB AJ McCarron, senior C Barrett Jones and junior CB Dee Milliner help lead Alabama.
But there's no denying the impact freshmen have had on the two teams.
"I think that is an outstanding team because of the balance that is created by their ability to run the ball effectively with good runners," Alabama coach Nick Saban said of how Georgia utilizes the duo.
Alabama's offense has seen a huge lift from freshman RB T.J. Yeldon (129 carries, 847 yards, 10 TDs) and WR Amari Cooper (45 catches, 767 yards, 8 TDs). Yeldon, teamed with junior RB Eddie Lacy, have helped ease the loss of Trent Richardson, the Tide's leading rusher in 2011. Cooper, who averages just over 17 yards per reception, gives Alabama a deep threat that keeps defenses honest.
"He's definitely the go-to guy, the deep-ball guy, made some wonderful plays," Georgia coach Mark Richt said of Cooper. "Some of the long-yardage receptions have been just launching it out there deep and him making a play."
Georgia believes in its defense: Regardless of what the numbers say, Georgia continues to believe in it own defense. Alabama is ranked first nationally in total defense (236.7 yards per game) and scoring defense (9.3 points per game).
Don't tell that to Georgia CB Sanders Commings.
“I think we're the best defense in the country,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I thought we were last year and we have 10 out of 11 or 12 players back who are part of the starting rotation. So there's no reason why we shouldn't be the top defense. Everybody on this defense thinks we are.”
Jenkins compared to Cody: It's easy to compare Georgia NT John Jenkins to former Alabama NT Terrence Cody, who played for the Tide from 2008-09. Jenkins is 6-foot-3, 360 pounds, while Cody weighed in around 6-5, 370 pounds. Both also played at Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College before transferring to an SEC power.
On the SEC Championship Game teleconference on Sunday, Saban said he sees similarities between Jenkins and Cody. Jenkins was honored by the comparison.
"I lived in his shadow my whole two years there," Jenkins told AL.com."For Nick Saban to give me that type of compliment, it's a big deal. It's almost an honor, because Nick Saban is very respected in the college football world, and as you know, he recruited 'Mount Cody.' It's a big honor for Nick Saban to say that."
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