Alabama impressed with Brock Bowers, Georgia’s receiving talent

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Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) reacts after scoring a 41-yard touchdown reception during the second quarter against UAB at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, September 23, 2023, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama isn’t shying away from acknowledging one of the greatest challenges likely awaiting it Saturday: Georgia tight end Brock Bowers.

“He’s elite,” Alabama linebacker Deontae Thompson said. “It’s definitely a challenge. He moves like a receiver. He’s not just a typical tight end that you’ll see. It’ll be something we work on throughout the week and we’re looking forward to it.”

While Bowers missed Georgia’s victory over Georgia Tech, coach Kirby Smart indicated he was the closest of the sidelined Bulldogs to playing. It seems, barring a setback, Bowers should be back when Georgia and Alabama face off in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Despite missing multiple games because of an ankle injury that required him to undergo TightRope surgery, Bowers has been a force in what’s expected to be his final season of college football. He has 661 yards and six touchdowns on 51 catches. In his most recent game, he had 60 yards and a touchdown on seven catches against Tennessee.

Bowers has scored a touchdown in five of his past six games, the exception being the Vanderbilt game Oct. 14 in which he was injured. In September, he had three consecutive 100-plus performances, including an eight-catch, 157-yard showing in Auburn that helped Georgia avoid getting upset.

“They just use him kind of like how the Chiefs use Travis Kelce,” Alabama safety Malachi Moore said. “I think that’s the best comparison. That’s what impresses me most about them.

“He’s definitely a challenge, a tight end like that who can do multiple things. From watching him, when he’s at tight end he’s a tight end. When he’s split out at receiver, he’s a receiver. So we have to know what’s coming when he lines up at certain positions. It’s going to be a tough week of preparing for him.”

Bowers is the best pass catcher, if not top player overall, on both these teams. He’s dominated since his freshman season, when he arguably was Georgia’s best offensive player as it defeated the Crimson Tide in the national championship. Bowers, who hasn’t lost a regular-season game in his career, is trying to go 3-for-3 in national titles.

In his and Georgia’s way: Who else but Alabama? The Crimson Tide were the last team to beat the Bulldogs in the 2021 SEC Championship game. Georgia got revenge weeks later in the national championship game Bowers had 10 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown in Georgia’s loss to Alabama. He had four catches for 36 yards and a score in the victory. The teams didn’t play each other last season.

“Brock Bowers is a really, really good player,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Probably the best player at his position in the country. I’m assuming he will play in the game. I don’t know any different than that. He’s a mismatch issue, but he’s also a really good blocker and competitor. So it’s not only his pass catching ability, but his ability to do all the things that really good football players do. He does them all at a high level.”

Asked about both Bowers and receiver Ladd McConkey, Saban spoke glowingly of the duo while acknowledging what others have achieved in their absence. Georgia’s top two receivers have been stalled by injury – both missed Saturday’s Georgia Tech game – but the Bulldogs’ offense hasn’t slowed without them. Saban cited tight end Oscar Delp and receivers Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Dillon Bell and Rara Thomas.

“Both those guys (Bowers and McConkey) are really good players so obviously they’re really dynamic,” Saban said. “But I will say this: The players who’ve played for those guys, and this speaks to the depth of Georgia’s team, (No.) 4 (Delp) is a really good tight end who’s done a really good job. No. 1 (Rosemy-Jacksaint), 86 (Bell), 5 (Thomas), the other receivers who’ve played have done a really good job, and they’re good players. Those two guys are fantastic players in their own right and they’re very productive. But the players who’ve stepped up and taken their place have done a really good job as well.”

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