Gators Defend, Too

Most of the talk about Florida's football team concerns the high-powered offense of Coach Urban Meyer. But the Gators have some bite on defense, too, and Alabama has to be prepared for that.

Alabama, ranked 15th in the nation, will host Florida, ranked fifth in the nation, at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. CBS will televise the game. Both teams have 4-0 records and both are 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play.

Coach Mike Shula said that Alabama's Wednesday practice was better than the Tuesday workout. "Thursday, we've got to have one more good practice when we do our down-and-distance stuff."

Shula said that Florida's defense "is real good against the run. And they do a lot of blitzing–backers and corners and nickels. And they play bump-and-run against the receivers. They do a real good job of disguising. They make everything look the same. They know their assignments. And perhaps most important, they have talent."

He added, "They play very well with the lead. And they have had the lead a lot."

In almost every regard, Shula believes that Alabama has not yet played its best game. He mentioned special teams as "capable of playing better. Last week we got good punting from Jeremy Schatz, but because it plays such an important part in field position we need to be better on coverage and returns."

Shula isn't interested in questions about Alabama having never defeated a top five team at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "That doesn't have anything to do with these guys," he said, gesturing at Bama players completing conditioning after practice. "We haven't played like we can play, but we're a better football team than we have been. And we're happy to be playing at home."

Shula said that the Crimson Tide is healthy. "We're still looking at guys like (linebacker) Terrence Jones. Hopefully he can come in and contribute on defense or on special teams." Jones has been out with an ankle injury.

Shula said that offensive guard Mark Sanders, who has been out with knee and ankle problems, had practiced the past two days and could be ready to play Saturday. Marlon Davis, who also plays right guard, is also 100 per cent.

There are two men at tight end who are still not ready to play. Trent Davidson, who broke his foot in the summer, is still recovering. Shula said earlier this week that Davidson, who played last year as a true freshman, could be redshirted this year. Greg McLain, who has been injured much of his career, has been out with a shoulder injury. Although Shula said McLain "could play in an emergency," the senior (who has not been redshirted) is not yet in playing condition.


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