Execution to blame for defensive mistakes

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In a game determined by big plays, it was Alabama that torched the Florida secondary for two long touchdowns and five total touchdowns through the air.

The day ended with Florida giving up 645 yards, the most the Gators have ever allowed. The 449 receiving yards for Alabama were the second most a Florida defense has ever allowed, falling short of Peyton Manning and Tennessee’ 492 passing yards in 1996.

Alabama quarterback Blake Sims threw for 445 yards, the third most for a quarterback against Florida. Only Manning (492) and Florida State’s Charlie Ward (446 yards in 1993) have thrown for more.

It started early and never slowed down. Alabama hit an 87-yard touchdown pass to Kenyan Drake, the fourth longest passing play in Alabama history, on its first snap of the game. Drake used a double move against linebacker Antonio Morrison and was open down field.

You can’t just bite on the double move,” Will Muschamp said. “It was a bad matchup on our part. They hit a double move on a guy, and we bit on the double move.”

A 79-yard touchdown to Amari Cooper -- his first of three touchdowns on the day further shone the light on Florida’s massive secondary mistakes.

“We’re supposed to roll over top in the middle of the field, we don’t,” Muschamp said of the play. “That’s a 79-yarder. You can’t do that against a good football team.

“We’ve got to go back and simplify some things, obviously. We need to improve.”

Cooper ended his day with 201 receiving yards, the fourth most ever allowed by a Florida defense. He added three touchdowns, punctuated by a catch over Vernon Hargreaves III on a perfectly thrown fade by Alabama’s backup Jacob Coker. Muschamp said Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin moved Cooper around the field more than they anticipated. The receiver ended the day with a new school record after catching his 19th touchdown pass.

Muschamp admitted the Florida defense wore down as the game went on, and the Gators couldn’t get off the field on third down. Alabama 12-16 on third down conversions, keeping Florida on the field. The most egregious error came on a 3rd and 23 from the Florida 32-yard line. Alabama was backed up after an offensive pass interference call on Cooper, but Kiffin dialed up a screen pass to Derrick Henry that went for 29 yards and a first down. That drive -- like five others -- ended in a touchdown.

“We felt like we had the right call, but we just didn’t execute,” Muschamp said. “I’d call it again. We’ve got to go execute. It’s a lack of execution, but that comes back on me. We’ve got to play better in those situations.

“We had plenty of opportunities to get off the field on third down and we didn’t.”

INJURY REPORT: Offensive guard Trenton Brown was in a boot as he left the field, but Muschamp said his X-rays were clean and they think it’s a high ankle sprain that should keep him out for a week.

Mark Herndon suffered a knee injury and the severity was unknown after the game.

OFFENSE CAN’T USE TEMPO: The Gators wanted to use tempo against the Crimson Tide, especially since Nick Saban’s defenses have struggled against it in recent years, but they were never able to because the offense wasn’t able to sustain drives. Muschamp didn’t want to put his defense in a difficult position if the offense couldn’t keep the football.

“We had to be able to sustain some drives,” Muschamp said. “We had some tempo planned for the game but we couldn’t sustain drives offensively. If you can’t stay on the field when you tempo, you put your defense back on the field. And we couldn’t get off the field offensively. We felt like that was another situation for us.”

Alabama’s execution helped them on third downs, but for Florida, it was the exact opposite. The Gators were 2-13 on third downs and only had the ball for 20:44.

“Being able to be balanced and staying on the field on third down, that was a killer for us,” Muschamp said.

LATE FIRST HALF DECISION: The Gators got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with 1:44 left in the first half and trailing by a touchdown. Instead of trying to run a two-minute drill, Muschamp said he wanted to take it to halftime and avoid any potential damage.

“We wanted to get into the half,” Muschamp said. “We were spent defensively, and I didn’t want to go back on the field. If we would’ve gotten to our 40, we would’ve gone fast. That’s where our landmark is, especially on the road. The worst thing we could’ve done is turn the ball over when we weren’t executing well.”

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