Questions for the enemy; Florida-Alabama

Bob Redman of FightinGators.com answered questions from Alabama fans about the Florida Gators for the Scout.com site BamaMag.com, and our Scout.com colleague Kirk McNair is returning the favor with answers to questions about the Crimson Tide from Florida fans.

Alabama (3-0) and Florida (2-0) meet at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 p.m. central) Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. CBS will televise the game.

Kirk McNair is the editor, publisher, and founder of ‘BAMA Magazine (1979) and BamaMag.com. Prior to that he was sports information director at Alabama under famed coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and before that assistant sports editor of the now-defunct Birmingham Post-Herald. He has written several books on Alabama football.

Here are questions about the Crimson Tide and McNair’s answers:

Are Saban and Smart (Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Bama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart) overly concerned about any position on the Florida offense other than running back?

Kirk McNair: I’m not sure about “overly concerned,” but rest assured Nick Saban is concerned about every aspect of Florida’s football team. He has mentioned quarterback Jeff Driskel and tight end Clay Burton and the three wide receivers, along with tailbacks Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor. He didn’t mention the offensive linemen, probably because he knows that sportswriters aren’t that interested.

What part of the Florida defense does Lane Kiffin think he can exploit better than the other positions?

Kirk McNair: When you’re looking at a Florida defense that is giving up only 4.3 yards per play (second only to LSU in the SEC), the term “exploit” probably doesn’t come up. Alabama expects it to be very difficult by air or by land against a very good Gators defense.

What has Bama's defensive line rotation been like through the first three games? How many guys have they been rotating in and how many do you expect them to rotate in on Saturday?

Kirk McNair: Alabama has played 10 men in its three-man defensive front and eight of those could be said to be in the regular rotation. Bama sometimes has a four-man look, too. Only one man, soph defensive end Jonathan Allen, has started all three games. Alabama seems to have a group of five or six “fast twitch” players more suited to playing against the spread formation.

Is Saban at all concerned about his team overlooking us?

Kirk McNair: No. This has been considered a huge game at Alabama almost since the end of last season, and certainly throughout pre-season camp and early season games.

What are the defense's strengths and weaknesses?

Kirk McNair: The strength is the front seven, where there is quality depth. The weakness is safety, where Jarrick Williams (who played nickel) is out with a broken foot and Nick Perry (free safety) is suspended for the first half against Florida because of a targeting call against Southern Miss last week.

Is there still much of a quarterback controversy?

Kirk McNair: There has not been a quarterback controversy because one player, fifth-year senior Blake Sims, has performed much better than expected and much better than Jake Coker, who transferred from Florida State. Saban has said both will continue to play.

Who are most of the fans pulling for at quarterback?

Kirk McNair: Before the start of the season, I would have said Coker, because Sims had been more of a wildcat type in his three years as back-up to A.J. McCarron. Most fans, though, wanted the man who performed best, and I would say that Sims is now the overwhelming fan favorite.

Any thought to getting more than one of the stud running backs on the field at the same time?

Kirk McNair: Yes. Saban has said that Kenyan Drake, a speedster, could be used along with T.J. Yeldon and/or Derrick Henry with Drake in that case likely to be in motion in hopes of getting a mismatch against a linebacker on a swing pass or wheel route.

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