FIVE THINGS WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT Alabama
Half Game… He didn’t stand on a table top and chant obscenities, but Alabama free safety Nick Perry is suspended for the first half of the Florida contest… for an illegal hit and targeting in the Southern Miss game. This is a chance for Florida to get a little advantage against a very young secondary outside of all-American Landon Collins at strong safety.
They have their guy… There is no quarterback controversy in Tuscaloosa. Blake Sims is the guy. He has performed better than Jacob Coker and although he may not be living up to the play of former All-American A.J. McCarron just yet, Sims is playing very well.
Five deep at running back… We know about T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, but Alabama actually lists five running backs on their depth chart that is usually limited or two or three. It makes sense. Each of the five was a 5-star prospect on some recruiting service during their days as a high school prospects. There are few if any in college football that can rival that depth and quality in the backfield.
The size is in the middle… When we think of Alabama on defense we think about the overall tremendous size and athleticism, especially for the guys up front. Well, they are big up front, but really not enormous, going 362, 320, 265, and 268. However, you take a look at their linebackers and Denzell Devall is 6-foot-2 and 254 pounds, Trey DePriest is 6-foot-2 and 250, and Reggie Ragland is 6-foot-2 and 254 pounds. These guys are like triplets and the Gators starting three linebackers weigh in at 225, 230, and 230.
Silly stat of the week… Florida hasn’t won at Alabama since 1998, a solid 16 years. Well, the Gators won in 1998, but the truth is Florida has only played at Alabama twice since then. In Urban Meyer’s first and last years as the head coach for the Gators, both times his offense was in serious flux.
FIVE THINGS I WANT TO SEE
Hurry up… It is time to drive Nick Saban batty. He hates the hurry up offense, so the gators need to make sure they run it and run it efficiently. Certainly it can backfire if you aren’t getting first downs, but they worked at high tempo in the off-season and they did it for games like this. Florida has talent, it isn’t up with these guys just yet, but this is a way to neutralize that talent by keeping them in situations where they can’t substitute.
Side to side… Along the same lines, the side to side action of the Florida offense, especially in the first game, is something that I believe can really work to their advantage. Make those big linebackers and linemen run back and forth to each sideline tiring them out and speeding up the temp to double the issues they could have.
Stop the run… One tall task considering what we wrote above. Alabama’s offensive line is huge and talented to go with all the talent and options they have at running back. The defensive line and linebackers have played well against the run. This is a whole new level and will have to step up.
Don’t give them the ball… My biggest fear for the Gators is turnover. I personally think they have the horses on both sides of the ball to stay with the number two team in the land, I worry about giving them too many chances with the ball. Florida has only turned it over one time in two games, but again the magnitude of everything in this contest is ratcheted up, including playing on the road in a hostile environment. It is imperative to not turn the ball over.
Better play in the back… Alabama wants to run the ball, but play action is certainly part of the offensive mind set with lane Kiffin at the helm of the offense. The Gators have to have better play at safety and NICKEL and guard against the big plays that burned them in the Kentucky game.
Bonus: Make field goals… Matters not who kicks it. They need to make it. I think it will be a close game and missing field goals isn’t going to cut it. It hurt Bama a year ago and they seemed to have fixed the situation. Frankie Velez isn’t off to a bad start, but he needs to make them all on Saturday.