On Saturday, Alabama opened the game with an 87-yard touchdown pass to Kenyan Drake. Although it would probably be an exagerration to say Bama had reason to fear Florida coming back for victory, the Gators did make things a bit uncomfortable in no small part to Bama’s generosity – four turnovers.
It was Drake’s first start this season and second of his career. Tony Brown at cornerback made his first career start.
Here are notes from Alabama’s 42-21 win over the Gators in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday.
Alabama’s score on its first offensive play of the game was the first since quite a less dramatic touchdown play on Sept. 8, 2007. Terry Grant scored on a one-yard run against Vanderbilt. The play that set up that score was dramatic, a 69-yard punt return by Javier Arenas. (Arenas, now with the Atlanta Falcons, was in attendance at Saturday’s game.)
Most noteworthy, perhaps, is Amari Cooper, who became the Alabama career leader in touchdown recptions four games into his junior season. Cooper added number 18 that tied the record, number 19 that gave it to him alone, and number 20 that finished his day. He had 10 catches for 201 yards with a long of 79.
And that wasn’t even the longest pass of the day, of course.
When Drake crossed the goalline, it gave Alabama a scoring steak of 173 games, which is the longest in program history.
Those passes (and others) came mostly from fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Sims, who passed for a career high 445 yards on 23-33 completions. In fact, he had a personal best by halftime, when he had 335 yards. Indeed, he also had his best ever at the end of the first quarter, when he had 272 passing yards, surpassing his previous best of 250 yards in the season-opener against West Virginia.
At the end of the first quarter, Alabama had 291 yards of total offense…and the game was tied at 14-14.
At halftime, Alabama had a 21-14 lead. Alabama is now 77-4 under Saban when leading at the half.
Alaama has now won four consecutive games against Florida and has a 23-14 lead in the rarely-played series.
There were a couple of firsts for the season, things that had been gnawing at the Alabama football camp.
First of all, the Tide got its first interception of the year when Jabriel Washington picked one off in the first quarter. Later, Lando Collins would get an interception.
Second, tight end O.J. Howard finally caught a pass. In fact, this was also a two-fer. Howard had two receptions for 22 yards.
Safety Nick Perry, who was suspended for the first half for a targeting penalty against Southern Miss a week earlier, did not see action in the game. Bama also held out safety Jarrick Williams, who is recovering from a broken foot, and cornerback Eddie Jackson, who injured a knee earlier this year.
Captains for Bama were wide receiver Amari Cooper, quarterback Blake Sims, and safety Landon Collins.
Alabama hosted a reunion of the 1064 national championship team this weekend. Among the stars of that team on hand were Joe Namath, Ray Perkins, Paul Crane, Jerry Duncan, Jim Fuller, Creed Gilmer, Les Kelly, Gaylon McCullough, and Jonny Mosley.
Honorary captains from that 1964 were Dan Kearley and Mickey Andrews.
Attendance was capaity, 101,821.