Key injuries stifled Nick Saban and Alabama's quest for back-to-back national titles


The big catch by Jameson Williams shook him up.

Jameson Williams is helped off the field after he made a great catch on a ball thrown by Bryce Young. (0:35)

2 am

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams found himself wide open in the second quarter of the College Football Playoff National Championship game after getting behind the Georgia defense.

Williams caught a twisting catch, and as he turned to head up field, his leg caught awkwardly in the artificial turf. He fell to the ground, clutching his left knee, and what should have been a 40-yard catch signaled doom for Alabama.

John Metchie III tore his knee in the SEC championship game and the Tide were already without him. With Williams out for the remainder of the national title game, it became difficult for Alabama to stretch the field without their top two receivers or score the way they needed to against the other team.

There was only so much that Young could do. As soon as Williams got hurt in the 33-18 loss, the entire game plan was changed.

"This guy was a huge part of our team all year," Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Williams. He has good speed. He's a threat in the air. The offensive coaches did a great job of utilizing his talent. He has been very productive. It has an impact on your team when you lose players like this.

It gives other players opportunities, and I'm not disappointed in how they responded to that, but there's no question that you win with great players. You win with people. He's been a great player and a great person on the team. It has to have an impact when you take him out of the lineup.

As soon as Williams went down, the wide receivers tried to regroup and tell themselves, "Next man up." Both Williams and Metchie tried to provide as much help and support as they could after Williams returned to the sideline.

The young wideouts did the best they could under the circumstances, but their inexperience showed at times.

The players who have not been used in games this season suddenly had their numbers called. Agiye Hall had three targets headed into Monday night. He was targeted eight times in the title game. Hall had two catches and several drops. He said after the game that he would be back. I apologize to the Bama Nation.

He had seven catches for 44 yards.

"We all had to step up, not just one person," he said. I feel like I tried my best and everyone else did. It was just one day.

In addition to relying on a young group of wide receivers, Alabama went to tight end Cameron Latu more, and he finished with five catches for a career-high 102 yards.

The Tide tried to get Brian Robinson out of the backfield. Robinson had four targets and four catches in the game, his highest total against an opponent in the past.

Robinson said that his job was to be efficient in the passing game as much as the running game. I knew I had to be more efficient in my passing game because of the loss of a key receiver.

As the game wore on, it became obvious that Alabama did not have anyone who could provide a deep play down the field.

Young went 1-of-8 for 28 yards with two picks on passes that went 20 or more yards in the game after Williams left. It was the first time in Young's career that he threw multiple picks up.

Alabama overcame injuries and the youth on the team, especially with Young putting together a dazzling season. There have been some issues on the offense and it showed up once again with Monday's game on the line.

Alabama had an opportunity to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Young brought Alabama down to the Georgia 44. He threw a pick-six on second-and-10.


The College Football Playoff National Championship game was won by Georgia when Kelee Ringo picked off a pass from Bryce Young.

Losing someone like J-Mo is hard. "That's been a theme for us, overcoming adversity." A lot of guys stepped up in a big moment. I'm very proud of how we played. Everyone around me played well. I have to perform better. We had chances because people stepped up when they were supposed to. I didn't get the ball into the end zone and that's on me.

Williams' emergence as a wideout this season was one of the best stories on the Alabama offense, as he filled a huge need after DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle left for the NFL. He had an exceptional season before he transferred to the Tide.

Williams was a backup at Ohio State last season. He decided to transfer to Alabama because he was looking for a fresh start. Williams did not want to talk about the reasons behind the transfer, but he wanted to focus on the national title game.

He had a great season in the year 2021.

Williams wanted to play in the second half against Georgia, but the doctors said no.

It will help them a lot. The thing that's difficult is that some guys didn't get to play much during the season. They had some opportunities, and they made some plays. I'm sure that will help their confidence, and they'll learn from this, and it will be a positive experience for them in the future.