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Georgia Defense Looking To Gobble Up Alabama's 'Gingerbread Man'

Georgia has been calling Alabama quarterback Bryce Young the 'Gingerbread Man' due to how hard he is to catch in the pocket.

INDIANAPOLIS — Jordan Davis has been monitoring his mammoth frame this season. However, Georgia won’t mind if the 6-foot-6, 340-pound defensive lineman is able to feast on Alabama’s “Gingerbread Man.”

That’s the nickname the Bulldogs has given Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young based on the nursery rhyme that goes “Run, run as fast as you can; You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.”

“That's what we've been calling him all week,” Davis said. “Just seeing him run around our defense in the SEC Championship game, you have to tighten up.”

The Alabama quarterback chuckled when he was informed of the reference.

“I hadn't heard that until now,” Young said with a smile. “But I guess it's a compliment. But that is stuff you can't control. We know how good that front seven is. We have a ton of respect for them, that entire defense.”

Young torched Georgia’s defense during last month’s SEC Championship Game, completing 26 of 44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns. Despite recording eight hurries, the Bulldogs were unable to record a sack on the Alabama quarterback as he skipped away from defenders in the pocket while finding receivers downfield for big plays.

“And it wasn't for a lack of trying,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said earlier this week. “We brought a lot of different pressures. They did a good job picking those pressures up, and at the end of the day, there's four or five guys that are one-on-one up there. Somebody's gotta win one-on-one. And a lot of times you're better at pressure when you're not on the field as long and you're winning some third downs.”

Heading into Monday night’s rematch against Alabama, the Bulldogs are trying to do everything possible to prepare for Young’s quick feet in the pocket.

“I've been going against, like, wide receivers in our quarterback rodeo drill in practice, so trying to track down a wide receiver who is shifty — and I'm a defensive lineman — it takes a lot of skill and a lot of practice,” Davis said. “And it teaches you to track the hips. We've just been tracking hips all practice. And definitely this go-around we'll try to contain him and get him.”

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The SEC Championship Game marked the only game this season Georgia’s defense failed to record a sack. The Bulldogs rank fourth in the nation with 45 sacks, including four in last week’s Orange Bowl victory over Michigan. Georgia has also had success against mobile quarterbacks, recording six sacks against a Tennessee offense that features Hendon Hooker and four sacks against K.J. Jefferson and Arkansas.

“We've faced pretty elusive guys,” said Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, who leads the Bulldogs with six sacks. “I feel that [Young’s] one of the best ones as far as sitting in that pocket and staying calm. I feel like he does that better than anybody.

“He's busy, just sit there, be calm and being able to extend plays and make plays. Just his ability to do that also just makes it tougher for the front seven to get aggressive. We've been kind of working on that and basically trying to make it a different outcome than the last time where we had no sacks, very uncharacteristic of us.”

Earlier this week, Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, emphasized the importance of getting after Bryce Young. However, when it comes to the Bulldogs’ plan to contain the Heisman winner, he’s keeping things close to the vest.

“I don't want to give away our secrets yet, but wait until the game to figure that out,” Lanning said. “We want to generate pressure, and certainly, there's a lot of different ways you can do that. He's really good at avoiding the rush, and they did unique things to protect him. We have to attack it a little bit differently, but how we do that, there's a lot of different ways we can do it.”

Of course, those plans are easier to draw up than they are to execute.

“Bryce's mobility is just different, because offensively he's a lot smaller than the other guys,” Alabama running back Brian Robinson said. “So he can cover himself up real well. He can move around the pocket. He can move out of the pocket. He has speed. He has a powerful arm.

“He pretty much can do everything any other quarterback can do. But the thing that just separates him is his ability to duck and avoid and shed tackles because of his size and ability to scramble and get out of the pocket.”

No. 1 Alabama (12-1) will play No. 3 Georgia (12-1) on Monday at 7 p.m. CT inside Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.