SEC Championship Game 2012: Game Changers to Watch in Alabama vs. Georgia Clash

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 27:  Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs points during the game against the Florida Gators at EverBank Field on October 27, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Junior quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray will both be under the microscope this weekend as each will be presented with numerous game-changing opportunities in Saturday's SEC Championship Game.

The two SEC signal-callers have combined to throw for over 5,700 yards and 55 touchdowns this season, meaning that each is a potential game changer in their own right, for better or worse. 

But McCarron and Murray won't be the only players impacting this weekend's championship showdown.

Here are a trio of game changers to watch for in Saturday's SEC Championship clash between Alabama and Georgia. 


Robert Lester, Alabama, S

Senior safety Robert Lester is Alabama's interception leader this season with four picks, and has anchored the Crimson Tide's third-ranked pass defense in 2012. 

Keep an eye on No. 37 in Alabama's secondary on Saturday. He had an interception against Auburn last week and is one of the team's best tacklers. He has 34 in 12 games this season, even coming up from the safety position to make two-and-a-half tackles for a loss.

Lester is a hawk in the secondary, and is a huge reason why Kirby Smart's defense has given up only six touchdown passes all year long. His presence will be vital to Alabama's success on Saturday with Georgia quarterback Murray looking to stretch the field with the Bulldogs' 34th-ranked aerial attack.

If Murray takes any chances downfield, expect the experienced Lester to make him and the Bulldogs pay.


Jarvis Jones, Georgia, LB

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is a rare talent and a bona fide first-round NFL draft pick. The junior defensive star boast 71 tackles in 10 games this season, including 19.5 for a loss.

It will be hard to miss No. 29 in the middle of the Bulldogs defense on Saturday. Jones never stops pursuing the football and rarely fails to make a big play when given the opportunity. If Georgia's defense forces a game-changing fumble or interception against Alabama, look for Jones to be responsible.

He has 10.5 sacks as well, which means that Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron could be trouble if he doesn't get rid of the football in a timely manner.

The Bulldogs defense starts and ends with Jones, who came up huge in their last big win over Florida back in October, sacking the quarterback, forcing fumbles and changing the course of the game. 


T.J. Yeldon, Alabama, RB

Despite being only a freshman, Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon has been sensational this season, averaging 6.6 yards per carry for the Crimson Tide, and providing a perfect complement to Eddie Lacy's power running style.

The 6'2", 215-pound back has 11 total touchdowns in 2012 and is averaging a tad over 13 yards per reception this year, proving to be a lethal receiver out of the backfield. No. 4's 28-yard, game-winning touchdown reception against LSU highlights his receiving accomplishments this season.

Yeldon will showcase his speed against Georgia's defense inside the Georgia Dome on Saturday afternoon. His quickness and stride in the open field is what makes him deadly. 

In a matchup sure to be highlighted by a pair of high-caliber defenses and experienced quarterbacks, Yeldon promises to stand out as arguably the most talented offensive player on the field in this Saturday's SEC Championship Game, better known as a National Championship semifinal.


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