LUMBERTON — When picking a side in tomorrow’s College Football Playoff national title game, Fairmont football coach Kevin Inman has an easy choice thanks to his family ties.
Inman picked Georgia to topple Alabama in the meeting of two Southeastern Conference teams in the national title game due to his connection through his family with the program, and likes their chances against Alabama based on how it played Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
“My brother (Daniel Inman) played there and I think a lot of the program,” Inman said. Daniel was an offensive lineman for the Bulldogs under former coach Mark Richt from 2002-2006 where he was on teams that were consistently ranked in the top 10, but never got the chance like this Georgia team has had this season.
Inman and the five other football coaches in Robeson County are split on their predictions when it comes to Georgia taking on Alabama. Georgia is looking to win its first national title since 1980, and Alabama coach Nick Saban is trying to tie former Alabama coach Bear Bryant for most national titles.
While his Fairmont team was pass-heavy this year, Inman likes the two-back combo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb for Georgia and sees that being the difference.
“This game will be won and lost in the trenches, but I also like Georgia for the simple fact they have two good running backs and the defense should be able to handle (Alabama quarterback Jalen) Hurts,” he said, “kind of like they did with Baker (Mayfield) in the second half against Oklahoma.”
The run game is also why South Robeson coach Clay Jernigan, a lover of running the football himself, is picking Georgia to top the Crimson Tide.
“I think they have the best running game in the country right now,” he said. “That will keep Alabama’s offense off the field and Georgia will be able to control the clock.”
But Jernigan also knows that defense wins championships.
“…Plus their defense is not bad either,” he said.
With Jake Fromm solid play as a true freshman quarterback this past Monday at the Rose Bowl, Purnell Swett coach Jon Sherman likes the Bulldogs’ chances against Alabama.
“I would go with Georgia because of their balance on offense,” he said. “They can run and the young quarterback has proven he can make the throws when needed.”
Shane Richardson, head coach at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, said history and familiarity is on Alabama’s side tomorrow.
“The way they operate, the expectation they have and the tradition that has been established gives them an advantage in big games,” he said. “Their mentality is structured for situations like these.”
St. Pauls coach Ernest King is a Saban fan and said the quarterback battle will be the difference for the Crimson Tide.
“I feel like they have the experience at quarterback in the big game,” King said.
Hurts is playing in his second national title game in as many seasons as a sophomore signal caller for Alabama. On the other side, Fromm has one season under his belt and is a year removed from playing under the Friday night lights.
“Alabama will come away with more big plays passing the ball and that could be the difference,” King said.
Much like his team this season, Red Springs coach Lawrence Ches said Alabama’s defense will lead it to Saban’s fifth in Tuscaloosa.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.