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Georgia photo by Tony Walsh / Georgia redshirt freshman Broderick Jones, a five-star member of the 2020 signing class, has started four consecutive games at left tackle in the absence of injured Jamaree Salyer.

If Alabama sophomore outside linebacker Will Anderson lines up across from Georgia's right tackle during Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta, he will see 12-game starter Warren McClendon.

Should Anderson be across from the left tackle, he's not sure who he'll face.

Senior Jamaree Salyer did not play a single snap in November due to a foot injury, leaving the starting role the past four games to redshirt freshman Broderick Jones. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Jones played every snap during Georgia's 43-6 rout of Missouri and 41-17 win at Tennessee.

"Jamaree is going to practice today," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Monday. "Jamaree had a setback last week that was minor, but it was enough that he couldn't play against Georgia Tech. The good news is he's played a lot of SEC football and has blocked some really good players before. They have some tremendous edge rush guys, including Will and others.

"If he's healthy, I feel good about Jamaree being able to play, but if he's not, Broderick has played in some big games now, too. Broderick has gone on the road and played in an Auburn environment and in a Tennessee environment. I'm pleased with what Broderick has been able to do."

Anderson, who leads the nation with 29.5 tackles for loss, wants to cover all his bases.

"You always want to go into a game prepared," he said, "so you always want to watch both, because you never know who's playing. Watching both of them this week will be important. It's definitely the smart move."

 

Rare underdogs

The Bulldogs were 6.5-point favorites as of Monday night, marking the first time Alabama has been an underdog in 93 games. The last such instance took place in 2015, when the Crimson Tide were 1-point underdogs at Georgia but won 38-10.

That snapped a streak of 72 games in which Alabama was favored, with that run dating back to the 2009 SEC championship contest against Florida. The Crimson Tide rolled as underdogs that day as well 32-13.

"We control only what we can control," Anderson said. "We try not to worry about external factors, because the only thing we want to think about it what's going on in our locker room. We want to be the team that's fast, physical and can dominate. That's the only thing we're worried about."

Said Alabama linebacker Henry To'o To'o: "We're there to play the full 60 minutes. We don't really look at that."

 

Losing by 27

Imagine Georgia losing by 27 this weekend.

That was the case the last time Georgia entered Mercedes-Benz Stadium as SEC East champs. The 2019 Bulldogs were 11-1 but no match for undefeated and top-ranked LSU, falling 37-10 to the eventual national champion.

"The team we played that day was a really good football team, probably one of the best that I've seen, and I've been in the SEC for 18 or 19 years," Smart said. "They were a tremendous football team, and we've improved since then. I think we've recruited well. I think our kids are playing with confidence. I think there are a lot of things outside just the Xs and Os of football that this team has really connected on, and they've done a great job from a leadership standpoint.

"We're not the same team we were then, and there are some areas of that team that were probably more talented than this team, but the strength of this team is the team, and the fact that it's not a one-man show of any kind."

 

Being in regardless

The Bulldogs have been a unanimous No. 1 for several weeks and would be a cinch to make the College Football Playoff even with a loss this weekend.

Not that Smart is bringing that way of thinking into the equation this week.

"I don't see how that has anything to do with anything," he said. "In the years I spent at Alabama, you could say that winning the SEC championship was just as hard as trying to win a national championship, and the SEC championship is one of our goals. We want to put it on this wall in here.

"That's what we're focused on."

Georgia has won just one of the last 15 SEC titles, with the Bulldogs ranking behind Alabama (seven), LSU (three), Auburn (two) and Florida (two) during that stretch.

 

Odds and ends

Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is a finalist for the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant along with Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis and Wake Forest offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero. ... Alabama coach Nick Saban on the possibility of having one scholarship running back should Brian Robinson (muscle pull) be out: "We have to coach the players that we have. Injuries are a part of the game."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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