Bryce Young, No. 4 Alabama face stiff test from No. 1 Georgia’s defense

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The going only gets tougher for Alabama’s normally explosive offense.

While the Crimson Tide was held out of the end zone for the first 59 minutes and 36 seconds by Auburn, now they face the nation’s top defense.

Heisman Trophy front-runner Bryce Young and the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide are gearing up to square off against No. 1 Georgia on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Making matters more challenging, Alabama tailback Brian Robinson Jr. is nursing a left leg injury and his status is uncertain for the game. If he can’t play, that leaves Trey Sanders as the Tide’s only healthy scholarship running back against a defense allowing a nation’s best 6.9 points and 229.7 total yards per game.

Georgia’s formidable front seven, led by defensive lineman Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean, is also a huge challenge for an Alabama offensive line that has struggled at times.

“What really motivates us is to make sure we come with our `A’ game,” Alabama left tackle Evan Neal said. “We’re all competitors, man. It’s what it’s all about. You’re the best? Okay, let’s line up and go out there and play. That’s what it’s all about.”

Alabama didn’t come with its best for that Auburn game, even if the Tide ultimately turned a 10-0 fourth-quarter deficit into a 24-22 quadruple-overtime victory.

The Crimson Tide mustered just 68 yards on 30 first-half plays and allowed seven sacks in the game.

Young led Alabama to 217 fourth-quarter yards, including a 97-yard drive over the final 95 seconds.

The finishing flourish rescued the team’s playoff hopes and vaulted Young back to leading Heisman candidate status, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Leading receiver Jameson Williams also missed most of the game after a first-half targeting penalty in punt return coverage. The winning touchdown pass with 24 seconds left went to freshman Ja’Corey Brooks, just his fourth catch of the season and second of the game.

But Alabama still ranks seventh in passing and total offense, averaging 341.8 yards per game through the air and 492.2 overall.

Young has passed for 3,901 yards and 40 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He’s completing 68.9% of his passes.

“It’s like he’s composed at all times and has great presence in the pocket, great distributor of the ball,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Knows where all his outlets are. Can draw the defense to him and dish the ball, much like a point guard in basketball.

“This is just one of the best I’ve seen as far as quick release and getting the ball out, distributing the ball really good.”

Then there’s the backfield, where Saban said he has never been down to one scholarship runner. Others who moved to the position as emergency fill-ins, but that could be the plight his players face in this one if Robinson can’t go.

Sanders has run for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

“We’ve got to get them ready to play the game,” Saban said. “There’s nothing else we can do about that. Injuries are a part of the game.”

Alabama has leaned heavily on Robinson at times, but Young’s biggest weapon has been Williams, along with fellow 1,000-yard receiver John Metchie III.

Williams has been the big-play threat, with 1,261 yards, 13 touchdowns and a 20.67-yard average per catch. Metchie has 90 catches for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns.

He also has plenty of faith in the Tide offense even facing by far its biggest challenge.

“I’m extremely confident,” Metchie said. “I think we’re concerned about ourselves more and playing our best brand of football, knowing that we’re going against a really good defense. But I think for us, it’s just playing our best brand of football.”

Alabama suspends freshman defensive back after drug arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama freshman defensive back Tony Mitchell has been suspended from the team following his arrest on a drug charge.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday after the first practice of spring that Mitchell was suspended from the team “and all team activities until we gather more information about the situation and what his legal circumstance is.”

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mitchell and another man, Christophere Lewis, last week on a charge of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Lewis also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.

“Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions,” Saban said. “There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ve gotta be responsible for who you’re with, who you’re around and what you do, who you associate yourself with and the situations that you put yourself in. It is what it is, but there is cause and effect when you make choices and decisions that put you in bad situations.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a five-star prospect rated the 34th-best player and No. 3 safety in the 247Composite rankings.

Mitchell was driving the vehicle during a traffic stop. After deputies smelled marijuana, Mitchell picked up a baggie of marijuana from the passenger floorboard, according to the department’s Facebook post.

Sheriff’s deputies found “an additional significant amount of marijuana, a set of scales, a loaded handgun between the passenger seat and center console, and a large amount of cash,” according to the department’s Facebook post.

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.