Tag Archives: 2018 National Championship game

Alabama’s Miller making his mark

Alabama outside linebacker Christian Miller is blessed with NFL bloodlines.  His father, former NFL linebacker Corey Miller, enjoyed an eight-year NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants that included 72 starts, 14 sacks, seven interceptions and a host of tackles.

Miller hasn’t been able to get his career on the same upward trek up to this point, but he has shown flashes in the past.  Before going down to a biceps injury versus Florida State in 2017, he had already run through the Seminoles offensive tackles on a couple of occasions when defending the run out of a two-point stance.  Well- balanced at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, he has enough length to occasionally battle with offensive tackles on the edge (see picture vs. USC’s Chad Wheeler in 2016).  He possesses the necessary bulk to create separation while deciphering the action.

So how has he grown mentally over the last year?

First of all, he didn’t allow the biceps injury to end his 2017 campaign.  He rehabbed religiously to make a comeback in time for Alabama’s national championship run.  His arduous journey draws high marks if for nothing more than its pure tenacity.  Miller put it best when he described the passage prior to the team’s Sugar Bowl contest against Clemson in early January.

“I feel good. This is what we wanted,” Miller said. “This is the opportunity that we wanted. Obviously had a rough start to the season with getting injured in the first game. But I rehabbed and worked back, and now I’m back.” (https://www.seccountry.com/alabama/christian-miller-describes-grueling-rehab-shit-not-easy).

And he didn’t just come back, he contributed.  In the 2018 National Championship Game, he was seen lining up on the punt team at the left tackle spot.  In the same game, he used a right-handed post versus a tight end and just wouldn’t quit on a down that resulted in a quarterback sack after he re-mapped his course.

Coming into this season, the true test would be to see if his pass rush variety would improve coming off the edge.  Last week vs. Ole Miss in Oxford, he put together arguably his best career performance to date (5 tackles, 2.5 QB sacks, 2.5 TFLs).   His first quarterback sack came on a play from the left defensive end spot.  He took a shoulder away and then surfed around the corner to wheel the edge and get the quarterback on the ground. On this play, he displayed an increased skill running the loop.   He later ran over a running back (in a one-on-one blitz pick-up) with a speed-to-power rush that resulted in his second quarterback sack.

These types of plays create a baseline to judge Miller on for the rest of the season.  As a competent complementary pass rusher alongside Dylan Moses, Isaiah Buggs and Raekwon Davis, the former five-star recruit may give the Crimson Tide’s defense even more room to blossom.

2018 CFP National Championship preview: Georgia vs Alabama, 1-08-18

This year’s championship game in Atlanta will feature two SEC teams and  two coaches who are familiar with one another.

Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) will face off against his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs (13-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) on Monday night.

Both teams are led by stingy defenses.  Each unit ranks top five scoring defense.

Worth noting, Saban is 11-0 against former assistants.

Players to watch

Georgia

3 Roquan Smith LB- Junior

Smith, at 6’1 225 lbs., is a little smaller than a typical first round linebacker but he has typical high-round talent. Smith finished the College Football Playoff semifinal versus Oklahoma with 11 total tackles. For the season,  Smith has 124 tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Smith already has an SEC Championship game MVP under his belt,  and the Bulldogs will need a similar effort to handle the Crimson Tide.

1 Sony Michel RB- Senior

Michel is a threat to take it to the house  any time he touches the ball. In the semifinal against the Sooners, Michel scored the game-winning touchdown and finished with 181 yards and three touchdowns. This year, he is averaging eight yards a carry.

Alabama

94 Da’Ron Payne DT- Junior

Payne is poised to join the likes of Marcell Dareus and Jonathan Allen, former Crimson Tide defensive linemen who have become premier run stuffers at the next level. Payne, at 6’2, 308 lbs., is a space eater and does the dirty work in the trenches that allows the ‘Bama linebackers to roam free. He also intercepted a pass and caught a touchdown against Clemson in the College Football semifinal.

29 Minkah Fitzpatrick DB- Junior

Fitzpatrick patrols the back end for the Crimson Tide and his measurables (6’1, 203 lbs) could make him useful at the next level as a nickel corner and safety. Versatility is the name of the game for defensive backs in the NFL and Fitzpatrick possesses that ability. On the season, Fitzpatrick has eight pass deflections, one interception and one forced fumble.

Prediction: Georgia 13 Alabama 21

—Troy Jefferson, DN Staff Reports