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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Bryce Young, ‘the Gingerbread Man,’ ran into Bulldogs’ cookie cutters

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During a virtual media day event Jan. 8, three days before his team was set to go up against defending national champion Alabama, Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis let the world in on a telling, if not humorous, secret. Georgia’s defense spent the week of preparation referring to Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young as the Gingerbread Man.

It’s a compliment, technically, and one that was well deserved. Young, the Heisman winner, carved up Georgia’s vaunted defense a month prior in the SEC title game — just as he and Alabama (13-2, No. 1 seed) had done to most teams this season.

The moniker isn’t inaccurate, either, because Young is an elusive quarterback.

Run, run, as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!

The Bulldogs (14-1, No. 3 seed) brought their cookie cutters to Lucas Oil Stadium on Jan. 10 in a 33-18 win to give the program its first national championship since 1980.

Here’s how it went: Third and goal. A chance to go up two scores in the second quarter. Sack.

And then: Final drive. The Tide need a miracle down 15 with less than a minute to play. Sack on first and 10, sack on second and 22 and, just for good measure, a sack on the final play of the game.

Even when it wasn’t a sack in the stat sheet, Georgia’s defense wreaked havoc in Alabama’s backfield, making Young scramble to find plays and hitting him — hard.

It was a night-and-day difference from the SEC championship game, when the Bulldogs didn’t register a single sack.

“They switched some things up,” Young said. “We knew that we might get some different looks. Some looks took me a little bit just to get down.”

Georgia’s defense was already going to be in the discussion as one of the most dominant units in the modern history of college football. Going into the title game, the Bulldogs allowed only 253 total yards per game and had the country’s No. 1 scoring defense at 9.6 points per game.

But to cap the season the way they did against Alabama, the program that churns out NFL talent with the best of them, meant a little something extra.

“We knew we was going to be special from the jump,” Davis said after the game. “We knew we were going to be special from the beginning, and just working through it and having a tremendous regular season and tremendous postseason, it just makes it all worthwhile.”

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853 or email at tylerf@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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