SEC Championship 2012: Alec Ogletree Key to Georgia Upset
When the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide face off in the SEC championship this Saturday, there will be a number of players to keep an eye on who can have a big impact on the game.
Specifically for Georgia, nobody will have a bigger impact on the game's outcome than Alec Ogletree.
Alabama thrives on a heavy-running, short-passing offense that isn't going to beat you over the top or fool with trick plays. But it's an efficient style of moving the ball that lets their skilled offensive line work and keeps their defense off the field.
Some teams struggle against the pounding run game, but Georgia is actually somewhat well-equipped to face off against T.J. Yeldon, Eddie Lacy and that big offensive line.
The Bulldogs start things off with John Jenkins clogging up the middle of the field.
The 358-pound behemoth will help occupy Alabama's great center-guard tandem of Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack, two future NFL starters.
Jenkins is a future NFL starter himself and the nose tackle could make a big statement to NFL scouts if he puts in a great performance this week.
The Bulldogs also have outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, one of the best players in the country.
But even though Jones is a talented all-around defender, he thrives more in the pass rush when he has some open field to work with and make a big play.
This leaves a pretty heavy load on Ogletree's shoulders, but he should be more than up for the challenge. Ogletree plays inside linebacker, but is athletic enough that he can get all over the field with ease.
I just wrote an in-depth scouting report on Ogletree for next April's NFL Draft, which you can check out here for more details about his strengths and weaknesses in every aspect of the game.
Ogletree is a converted safety who can drop back in coverage, as well as help neutralize the slot receiver or anything designed over the middle.
Most valuable to the Bulldogs' efforts will be Ogletree's tendency to get to the ball and make tackles. Somehow, Ogletree leads the team in tackles, even after missing the first four games of the season.
Ogletree keeps his head on a swivel and uses a deadly combination of quickness, balance, and aggression to attack the ball carrier. He is best when moving towards the sideline and getting out of the way of the centers or guards.
His athleticism is his biggest asset, but he can sometimes get stuffed up the middle because he's a little long and lean for an inside linebacker.
But if Jenkins does his job at nose tackle, it should allow Ogletree to get anywhere on the field and shut down the Crimson Tide.
Yeldon and Lacy have combined to rush for 24 touchdowns and nearly 1,900 yards this season. If Alabama establishes the ground game early, it will make things easier on their offense and a lot harder on Aaron Murray and the rest of Georgia's offense.
It's up to Ogletree to fly around the field, as he usually does, and make some big plays. If he can get to the ball carrier and neutralize Alabama's rushing attack, it will swing the momentum in Georgia's favor.
The biggest game of Ogletree's career could help raise questions about his future, or it could contribute towards his name getting called on the first day of the draft.
If Ogletree succeeds, Georgia will be in prime position to pull off the upset.
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