What Will the Defense Bring?

Question: What do Alabama defensive coordinator Joe Kines and Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer have in common?

Answer: They both speak highly of Meyer and the offense he has brought to the University of Florida.

"It's a great scheme," Kines said. "It's a really intriguing scheme that is uniquely designed. A lot of thought went into it…"

"I don't know if he's a genius or not, but I can't think of another word..."

"They'll throw it deep, underneath, behind the lines on the screens. They have almost every element of football in it…"

Kines could go on and on about the Florida offense, which is unquestionable talented, averaging 34.5 points (second in the SEC) and 417.5 yards per game (fourth in the SEC), but the Alabama defense might also be the best the Gators have seen, too.

"We've got what we've got. There's not going to be a draft. We're not going to get to recruit any more," Kines said. "We've got to play the ones we've got - the ones that will show up. If we'll show up, then we've got a chance. If we don't show up, we've got no chance."

The Gators have completed passes to 11 different receivers and frequently go with an empty backfield, meaning the quarterback is the only person in the backfield.

"Some teams do that once a year. They may do it once a drive," Kines said. "It really tests you defensively. You can't load up on anything. They make you play it straight a lot. It's probably one of the best things going in college football this year. I don't know one that's more unique. It's intriguing."

Receiver Chad Jackson averages over 100 yards per game. And Florida has had 10 players rush for positive yardage during their four games (for comparison, Alabama has had 7), which is just as disconcerting to Kines because of the unpredictability of where the ball is going.

"Everybody runs it and everybody catches it. They give everybody a chance," he said. "It's kind of like driving a dynamite truck out of the Chicago fire. There's (not) a lot of room for error."

Gator quarterback Chris Leak is a rushing threat, but also a sack target. He has gained 94 yards this season on rushing plays, but lost 95 yards, mostly a result of 14 sacks allowed by the Florida offensive line. He threw for almost 400 yards against Kentucky last week.

"He's the best quarterback we've seen in a long time," Kines said. "I don't get into comparing them. That's like comparing your children. I wouldn't do that."

Alabama's defense has held nothing in reserve for the top-15 showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, and the offense Kines said would be as good as any the Tide has faced this year "by three-fold".

The Tide is going to ‘dance with the girl that brung ‘em' in Kines lexicon, sticking with the schemes they ran against MTSU, Southern Miss, South Carolina and Arkansas.

At least that's what Kines would have the media at Alabama's weekly news conference on Tuesday afternoon to believe.

"You've got to tackle in this game," he said. "You keep it as fundamental as you can… People haven't gotten pressure on him (Gator quarterback Chris Leak) much with the blitz."

"There's no use in switching dates in the middle of the prom."

Alabama's true answer to the Florida offense will come Saturday afternoon.

Asked about Tennessee's ability to slow the Florida offense, Kines said, "They were able to get pressure on the quarterback some and made good decisions on the option at times… but they didn't completely shut him down, now."

An educated guess, however, is that the Crimson Tide will start conservatively and try to make Florida one-dimensional by stopping the option run and putting the game on Leak's arm ("Any time it's two-dimensional you're in a mess," Kines said,) then attempt to expose the Gator line's questionable protection with some things the Tide has yet to show this year.


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