A month ago, Alabama lost John Mechi III to a torn ACL.
On Monday night, Jameson Williams sustained another knee injury.
The Crimson Tide may be able to survive one of their absences, but not both. Without Williams in the breakout season after transferring from Ohio State, Bryce Young could not top the inexperienced receiving corps in a 33-18 loss to Georgia in the national championship game.
“If you lose players like this at any time, it will affect your team,” coach Nick Saban said.
Young was picked twice for the first time in his career and was able to get Alabama in the end zone only once in four trips inside the red zone. The Heisman Trophy winner was picked up by Kelly Ringo when he was driving the Crimson Tide for a potential game-winning score in the final minutes, which he picked up for 79 yards for a clinching touchdown.
Young completed 35 of 57 passes for 369 yards and a touchdown. He gave Alabama the lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 10:14 remaining. But Georgia scored the final 20 points to claim its first national title since 1980.
“We have a lot of opportunities. The ball has moved relatively well. We’ve done some things well,” Young said. “We didn’t execute.
“In every game the ball touches my hands. And my job is to put the ball into the end zone. I couldn’t make it tonight.
The game took a turn when Young Williams opened the middle for a 40-yard gain early in the second quarter. But when the junior tried to move in the open field, he suffered an unconnected knee injury and lost for the rest of the game. Saban said Williams wanted to come back, but the Alabama coach wouldn’t let him down. The NFL Draft prospect needs to get an MRI test on his knee.
That left Young to throw to inexperienced receivers such as Trayson Holden, Zachary Brooks and Aggie Hall. In the deep third quarter of the Georgia area, Hall had a killer drop that would put Alabama ahead by two scores. Instead, the ensuing field goal was blocked and Georgia took the lead in the following possession.
In the previous meeting (14-1) against Georgia in the SEC playoffs, Young threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns. Williams stepped in to replace injured Mechy, who has 184 of those yards and two touchdowns. In addition, the Bulldogs’ top-ranked scoring shut down Defense Young and the Crimson Tide. Alabama (13-2) could live without Mechy, but not Williams.
“It gives other players opportunities, and I’m not disappointed with how they responded to it, but there is no question you can win with great players,” Saban said.