David Greene completed just 10 passes that day but five of them went for touchdowns, of 25, 2, 29, 24 and 21 yards. Saban, now the head coach at No. 16 Alabama, which hosts No. 22 Georgia on Saturday, gives his opponents chances to make plays down the field by using an aggressive defense that often relies on single coverage against wide receivers.
The problem for Georgia is that throwing and catching, particularly down the field, has not been its specialty this season. The Bulldogs will have to get better at it this week against Saban, Stafford said.
“I think it’s against really any defense but definitely his,” Stafford said. “If you can just complete passes, that’s just the biggest thing against his defense and then try to make some big plays if you can.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt thinks his team needs to take more chances for big-gaining plays regardless of its opponent, but admits it’s especially crucial against Saban.
“If you don’t make plays to make them think twice about playing that kind of coverage, you’re done,” he said. “If a team wants to stop your run, they can get enough folks to stop it, but in doing so they make themselves vulnerable to big plays in the passing game. If you don’t make a big play, there’s no reason to stop doing it.”
Georgia has had some long pass plays called when Stafford has had to throw a shorter route due to pressure, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
“You’ve got to hold it a little longer to throw it down field,” Bobo said. “We’re trying to be careful to do stuff (the offensive line) can do, but as you play guys that are going to pressure and are going to play man, you’ve got to get them off of you.”
“When you (make plays in the passing game), it completely takes them out of their game plan,” said senior wide receiver Sean Bailey, who caught one of Greene’s touchdown passes in that 2004 game.
That year was Saban’s last at LSU, and the Crimson Tide is not playing as aggressively on defense as the Tigers did that season, Richt said.
“When he left (LSU) he was more apt to just put everybody on the offensive line and come after you,” Richt said. “Not to say (Alabama) won’t to do that, but they haven’t gone all out on the blitzes like (Saban) did at LSU.”