Tide offense preparing for UGA linebacker Jarvis Jones

Talent will be at a premium when Alabama and Georgia face off for the first time in the SEC Championship.

With both programs recruiting at an elite level, the Tide and Bulldogs seem evenly matched on both sides of the ball.

But if there is one player that can single-handedly change the game, it’s Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones has terrorized offenses all year – leading a Bulldog defense many consider the most talented in the country. Those who haven’t seen Jones play have certainly heard of him.

“I’ve been hearing about him all season,” offensive lineman Chance Warmack said. “I’ve heard he’s an excellent pass rusher and a good defensive player. I watched him a few times on TV. He’s a tremendous athlete, a monster inside.”

Jones has put up other-worldly statistics all season with 71 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and an interception.

“You certainly have to have a plan to try and help the players that have to block him, so hopefully he can’t just get in one-on-one situation where it’s a difficult circumstance for somebody,” head coach Nick Saban said. “There have been games this year where he has made a phenomenal amount of plays, like sacks causing fumbles. The guy is probably one of the best defensive players in the country in terms of his playmaking ability.”

Secret weapon

After losing Kenny Bell (broken leg) for the season, Alabama is searching for answers at the wide receiver position. Bell was the third Tide receiver to go down, but one of those three is ready to come back, Saban said.

True freshman wide receiver Chris Black (shoulder) has missed the entire season and is currently redshirted. But with multiple injuries, Saban said the option of removing Black’s redshirt is being “revisited.”

“He’s been practicing for three weeks now,” Saban said. “Now he’s been cleared. So we’re going to try to get him some reps because we’re getting down to where we only have maybe five guys that have much experience at the position.”

Black practiced in a normal jersey and ran routes behind Kevin Norwood at Y receiver, Bell’s position, on Monday.

Players of the week

Eight Alabama players were recognized by the coaching staff for their outstanding performances following Saturday’s 49-0 win over Auburn. Amari Cooper, Barrett Jones, Eddie Lacy and AJ McCarron were named players of the week on offense while Robert Lester and Jeoffrey Pagan represented the defense. On special teams, Landon Collins and Reggie Ragland were selected.

Barrett Jones was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week and had the top grade for the Alabama offensive line this season at 96 percent with no pressures, no penalties and no missed assignments. Lacy rushed for a game-high 131 yards on 18 carries with a pair of touchdowns. He became the 16th player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a season. Cooper led all receivers with five catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The true freshman recorded his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. McCarron completed 15-of-21 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns.

Lester, who also earned honorable mention from the conference office in terms of player of the week, led the Tide with five total tackles (four solo) and returned an interception for 31 yards to set up a touchdown. His 14 career interceptions are tied for fifth all-time at the University. Pagan had three tackles, 1.5 for loss and a sack.

Collins had two tackles on kickoff coverage as a starter on special teams. Ragland was credited with three assists on kickoff coverage, including one inside the 20, along with a pair of big hits on kickoff.