Scouting Alabama's Offense

It's funny that all the attention building up to the Florida/Alabama SEC Championship Game seems to be focused on the potentially epic battle between Florida's offense and the Crimson Tide defense. While that certainly is the marquee aspect of this game it's the angle that will be dealt with tomorrow.

For today we need to acknowledge that when Bama has the ball the competition will be at a pretty high level, too. Alabama is second in the SEC in scoring, while the Gators offer up the second best defense in the SEC. Alabama has topped the 30 point mark seven times, but the Gators have allowed only one opponent (Ole Miss) to score that many.

Alabama Offense ----- The Alabama offense doesn't wow you. It doesn't have a lot of sex appeal. It's not difficult to prepare for. It's hard as heck to play against, but it's just not complicated. It just pounds on you until you say, "uncle". They are an old school tailback oriented scheme. Glen Coffee (1,235/6.2/9) is the second best back in the league behind Knowshon Moreno. When he gets winded you have to deal with Mark Ingram (681/5.4/11) and Roy Upchurch (350/6.0/4). Alabama gains over 200 yards a game on the ground and averages almost five yards a pop. They have run for 30 touchdowns on the season.

The Bama backs run behind the best offensive line in the SEC and maybe the country led by massive LT Andre Smith and center Antoine Caldwell. Both are projected to be first round draft picks next spring. Smith is the best blocker in the country. With Mike Johnson at LG this team tilts to the left more than Nancy Pelosi. The right side is okay, but not exceptional.

Alabama's receiving corps is led by freshman Julio Jones (46, 15.7, 4) who is a tall target. Jones is right up there with A.J. Green of Georgia as sensational freshmen. The other receivers are solid players but don't scare you. They throw to the backs out of the backfield two or three times a game. They make good use of their TE in the passing game with Nick Walker (26, 10.1, 2). On the year they have just 10 TD passes.

Quarterback John Parker Wilson runs the show and has really cut down on his mistakes. His numbers are so-so (59%/1,909/9/5) but the only number he focuses on is 12-and-0. He has a lot in common with Jay Barker who wasn't flashy but won. Wilson has enough escape ability to avoid the rush, but he doesn't have to use it often, having been sacked just 16 times.

There's nothing difficult about preparing for this offense. They are quite straightforward in what they are going to do. The difficult part is keeping them from doing it. Florida has to be stronger against the run than they have all year, especially on first down in order to force Wilson into difficult down-and-distance situations. The Gators can't count on Alabama stopping itself. The Crimson Tide has just 14 turnovers on the season and averages only 35 yards a game in penalties.

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