"It was a big wakeup call," Josh Evans said. "It makes you go into this game being ready and focusing on it, not worrying about everything else."
Evans admitted that the focus wasn't where it should have been going into the game last year. He wouldn't say that players were selfish in their time of preparation before the game, but players didn't have their heads fully focused on the game.
After holding Alabama to a field goal on their first drive, the Florida offense marched down the field against Alabama. However, with four chances from the goal line, the Gators couldn't punch the ball into the end zone and lost all momentum. From that point on, Alabama ran away with the game.
"That first drive we were looking pretty good, but that first drive broke us down a little bit," Evans said. "I feel like it separated and broke us down early in the game. During the game, we lost focus."
On paper, there are differences in this year and last year for Alabama. They lost first-round picks from the offense to the NFL in wide receiver Julio Jones, running back Mark Ingram and offensive lineman James Carpenter.
Despite those losses, the Crimson Tide has plugged in new players and seems to be strong on offense so far this year. The scheme hasn't changed, but the players have.
"They look a little different because some guys left, but it's pretty much the same old thing," Evans said. "It's the same old type of offense."
With Jones gone to the NFL, Marquis Maze steps in as the go-to wide receiver. Kenny Bell, Brandon Gibson and DeAndrew White have all had their moments as complimenting receivers to Maze. Tight end Brad Smelley is third on the team with eight catches this season.
Evans thinks it's a good matchup for the young, inexperienced secondary of Florida.
"They've got a couple guys, but I think we match up perfectly against them," Evans said. "It's all type of aspects. Athleticism and size, I think we match up pretty well with their receivers and tight ends."
The two even get involved in the passing game. Richardson is second on the team with nine receptions on the season. He serves as a check down for quarterback A.J. McCarron, but the Crimson Tide also includes a solid screen game that forces the defense to stay honest.
The secondary has a tough job reading the screen passes, but they focus on a few keys to read the play.
"Sometimes you can see it and sometimes you don't," Evans said. "Sometimes they'll run a screen with a receiver going downfield, and you think it's pass. For the most part, you see it sometimes. The tackle can give it away by letting a guy go and then pulling. The receiver can give it away, too."