Scouting Alabama Defense and Special Teams

Well, this is as close as college football can get to a clash of the titans. You'll see the top offense in the country against the top defense. No, Florida doesn't lead the country in total offense and scoring, but the Gators have the most dangerous team in college football.

Alabama on the other hand has held opponents to 74 yards a game on the ground and 249 in total offense. Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense (11.5) and has allowed only one team to score more than 21 points and that team (Georgia) was down 30 before it did anything.

It starts up front with nose guard Terrence Cody who is listed at 6-5, 365 and looks bigger. In fact he's so big he's banned by many coastal zoning regulations. But he's more than big; he's also agile, mobile and hostile. The only way to move him out of the way is with a bulldozer. He'll get a lot of attention from the Pouncey brothers and that'll be a game within a game. The DE in their scheme Bobby Greenwood and Brandon Deaderick do their jobs and can be disruptive if you pay too much attention to the big fella. Greenwood leads a mediocre pass rush (their one weakness) with four sacks.

The linebacking corps is very good and very young. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain is a sophomore and their leading tackler (82/11 TFL). 98 Brandon Fanney (60/8 TFL) is very good on the strong side. Add in Dontae Hightower (59) and Corey Reamer (35/6 TFL) and you have a nice quartet of fine tacklers with no senior. They will have to play with a lot of discipline against the different looks and mis-direction Florida will throw at them.

The secondary is led by an excellent pair of safeties in free safety Rashad Johnson (73/5 INT) and SS Justin Woodall (37/4). They have nine of ‘Bama's 15 interceptions and are two reasons why people try to throw to the outside against them. Johnson is a legit candidate for SEC defensive player of the year, though I would vote for Cody. The corners are good but Florida can have some success there. Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson are excellent tacklers and guys you will try to get behind with double moves.

Overall there is no doubt this is the best defense the Gators have faced. Florida will try to get the young linebackers to over play and hit them with misdirection and watching the Pounceys against Cody is worth the price of admission. The Gators must establish enough of a running game to get the defensive backs concerned about run support.

Florida has to take some solace in that fact that Georgia did score 30 on them in the second half and LSU (21) and Ole Miss (21) had some success.

Alabama Special ----- The Crimson Tide is one of the best at PR with Javier Arenas (14.7/2 TD). Their punt coverage has been okay (9.3/1). The kickoff return has not been very good (19.1/38) but their kickoff return coverage has been solid (21.5) with the exception of one 96-yard TD against Clemson.

The kicker Leigh Tiffin is okay, 17-of-24 field goals, but only 3-of-7 beyond 40. The punter P.J. Fitzgerald is so-so. He has a 41.1 average with 14 fair cathces and 14 inside the 20. Bama has had two punts and extra point and a field goal blocked this year. They have blocked three field goals as well.

The turnover situation is going to be one to watch since, like almost every other category these teams are the top two in the SEC. Florida (+21) and Alabama (+10) count on a significant edge in this area.


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