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Georgia Football

Nick Saban Calls Leading Rusher Jase McClellan "Probably Questionable" vs. UGA Football

November 30, 2023

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ATHENS - Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said he could not predict if the Tide’s leading rusher, Jase McClellan, would be able to play in the 2023 SEC Championship Game against Kirby Smart’s UGA Football team. 

“He's not been able to do a lot,” Saban told reporters on Thursday afternoon. “We'll see how he does today, where he is. I would have to say he's probably questionable for the game at this point. I think it's probably too early to tell.”

McClellan has accounted for 803 yards on 166 carries. He’s added another 126 yards on 13 carries. McClellan has scored six rushing touchdowns in 2023. 

Meanwhile, Kirby didn’t give much of an update to reporters on star tight end Brock Bowers, offensive lineman Tate Ratledge and receivers Ladd McConkey and Rara Thomas. All four missed Georgia’s win over Georgia Tech on Saturday. 

“I'm trying to figure that out myself,” Kirby said in response to a question about that foursome’s availability to play against the Tide. “I don't have a lot more answers now than I had on Monday. They have not been able to do a lot. Each one has worked kind of independently. Tate has done some drill work, some 11-on-11 stuff, Brock has sprinkled in some of that. The other guys have been able to run and do some things. But we're going to find out today what their availability is, to be honest. It's tough because it bothers me that people have said out there that we sat these guys for the last game. That wasn't the case at all. They couldn't go.I don't know if they're going to be able to go in this game. It's just unfortunate to have those kind of injuries, especially four starters on offense.”

No. 1 Georgia is listed as a 5.5-point favorite over the Tide. Georgia has never beaten Alabama in the SEC Championship Game in their previous three meetings (2012, 2018 and 2021). 

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WIN: What’s Important Now

Top-ranked Georgia (12-0, 8-0 SEC) will be looking to capture its 15th SEC title and second straight when it meets No. 8 Alabama (11-1, 8-0 SEC) Saturday in Atlanta. The Bulldogs completed their third consecutive perfect regular season, which is a school record. Also, the 2023 senior class has tied the school mark for victories as they enter the postseason now 49-3. The 2022 class went 49-5.

The Bulldogs are making their 11th appearance in the SEC Championship Game (SECCG) where they are 4-6. Georgia claimed the 2022 SEC crown when it beat LSU while the others came in 2002 (Arkansas), 2005 (LSU) and 2017 (Auburn). Georgia is making its sixth appearance in the SECCG in the Kirby Smart era where it’s 2-3. The Bulldogs are the visiting team this year.

Georgia’s 14 conference titles rank the second most in the SEC. Georgia will be aiming for its first win over Alabama in an SECCG after falling in 2012, 2018 and 2021. In the all-time series, Alabama leads 42-26-4. The Bulldogs won the last meeting, posting a 33-18 triumph in the 2022 CFP National Championship Game in Indianapolis, Ind.

SECCG Experience

The 2023 team features 14 Bulldogs who have started at least one SECCG and two (Sedrick Van Pran-C and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint-WR) who have started the past two championship games. 

Offense (6): Sedrick Van Pran (C/21-22), Brock Bowers (TE/21), Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (WR/21-22), Ladd McConkey (WR/22), Tate Ratledge (RG/22), Xavier Truss (LG/22)

Defense (8): Dan Jackson (SS/21), Jamon Dumas-Johnson (LB/22), Kamari Lassiter (DB/22), Smael Mondon (LB/22), Tykee Smith (STAR/22), Nazir Stackhouse (DL/22), Malaki Starks (SS/22), Tramel Walthour (DE/22)

Did You Know? There have been five blocked field goals in SECCG history, and four of them by Georgia. Last year, Nazir Stackhouse blocked a 32-yard attempt and Chris Smith returned it 96 yards for a score.

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Balance Signals Success

The Bulldogs are one of only three teams in the country who are ranked in the top 10 in both Scor- ing Offense and Scoring Defense. The Bulldogs rank sixth in Scoring Defense at 15.8 ppg and eighth in Scoring Offense at 39.6 ppg. The other teams are Oregon, who ranks seventh in Scoring Defense (15.9) and second in Scoring Offense (45.2), and Notre Dame as they are ninth in both (16.6 pgg/39.1 ppg).

One of the keys to Georgia’s success is its third down defense. The Bulldogs are ranked second nationally with opponents converting just 27 percent of the time. In SEC action, Georgia opponents were a combined 28-for-95 on third downs (29 percent). The Bulldogs are second nationally in converting third downs (57 percent). Georgia converted 56 of 99 third downs (57 percent) against league opponents.

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