Chapman Has Plan For Florida Speed

Note to Florida's very speedy running backs: If you make Alabama nose tackle Josh Chapman chase you, be sure you don't let him catch you.



Alabama takes its Southeastern Conference top-rated defense to take on Florida's best-in-the-SEC offense Saturday in Gainesville. CBS will televise the game between the second ranked Crimson Tide and the No. 12 Gators with kickoff at 7 p.m. CDT (8 p.m. eastern time). Both teams are 4-0.

It's a little simplistic to say it's Florida's offense against Alabama's defense. That was the story last week when the highly-regarded offense of Arkansas and Coach Bobby Petrino took on the Bama defense of Coach Nick Saban. Alabama was a 38-14 winner in that match-up at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

True, Alabama dominates defensively, leading the SEC in scoring defense, rushing defense, passing defense, and total defense. Florida, on the other hand, leads the league in scoring offense, ruishing offense, and total offense, and is sixth in passing offense.

But dig a little deeper and see that Florida is second in the league in scoring defense and total defense (and third in rushing defense, fifth in passing defense), and Alabama is second in the conference in total offense and rushing offense (and fourth in scoring offense and passing offense). So it's good against good in every respect.

In the middle of the action for Alabama on defense is nose tackle Josh Chapman. The 6-1, 310-pound senior knows that Florida has outstanding runners in 5-9, 174-pound Chris Rainey and 5-7, 191-pound Jeff Demps.

"Now it's time to move on to the Gators," Chapman said. "They have two good running backs who are just like race cars.

"Very fast."

Chapman said against Florida, Alabama's defense will have to create "a new line of scrimmage, dominating the [Florida] offensive line. The front seven has to do its job. It's about keeping an edge, setting the edge for those guys who like to go outside. When they turn the corner, those guys are going fast.

"It's about going out and playing with your hands, being physical, and make them one dimensional; make them pass."

Chapman said that Alabama has a lot of fast men on its scout team to attempt to emulate Rainey and Demps. "It's hard to look like those track stars, though," he said. "But we'll be ready.

"They always have speed guys. It's no different than what they have always had. They've got guys who can take it the distance. We've got to go out and play Alabama football, which is being physical, hitting guys in the mouth.

"We try to get guys running sideline to sideline. Our defense is known for running to the football, getting 11 hats on the ball. When you get guys running to the football, that's when you start getting on those small guys – they are fast guys, but big guys have to go get on little guys."

Chapman said, "You've always got to secure the middle. You never know. I've watched the films. They try to wear down the defensive line by starting out with screens. Everyone's going to come up amped up, and that's when they try to hit you with the screens. They like to run outside. I'll try to run them down if I can."

Excuse me? Run them down? And the last running back you caught from behind?

"Probably in practice trying to chase Trent (Richardson) down. I got him, but I couldn't go the next play."

Chapman has a plan if he catches a small speedster.

"When I get on the little guy, if I had to run to go get you, I'm going to punish you," he said. "I'm going to lay on you, use my weight when I get up off you. If it's a struggle for me to get you, it better be a struggle for them getting back up."

It probably is not part of the game plan for Chapman to run down Rainey and Demps. A better plan is to feed them to the men behind the line, as was the case in the Arkansas game. The Razorbacks were limited to 17 yards on 19 carries.

Chapman saw the big hits behind him against Arkansas. "We've got some hard-hitting cornerbacks and safeties," he said. "I heard banging all around me. We played physical football all around."

"We've got some hard hitters back there. There's a lot of flying around and hitting people in the mouth."

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