The Gator secondary knew that Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson was going to be looking for Julio Jones all game long, but they couldn't prevent a 64-yard strike to the big wide receiver to set up a Bama touchdown in the first quarter.
"I was playing with so much nerves and I was just waiting for him to go deep," Joe Haden said. "He was running all these short intermediate routes."
Jones ran a crossing route and Haden missed the tackle followed by a missed tackle from Major Wright and then Jones was off to the races.
"It would have been a 12-yard gain if we had tackled him, but he broke all those tackles," Haden said. "We came off the field and we felt like we let the team down. We said that if he catches it, at least bring him down."
The Gators jockeyed back and forth with the Tide until the fourth quarter when Florida found themselves down by three points. Tim Tebow led Florida on a scoring drive to take a four-point lead and then it was up to Haden and the defense to make a play.
"We haven't had to play a fourth quarter in a long time," Haden said. "Coach Meyer had us doing two-minute drills at the end of practice to make us ready for the game. Spikes was telling us that when we went up 24-20 all we had to do was make a stop and we would win the game. We just went out and focused on that."
Wilson tried to go back to Jones, but instead of a short crossing route, this time Jones went deep.
"He's a big dude, but speed isn't really his thing," Haden said. "He tried to run a hitch-and-go. They don't run too many of them, so when I saw him make the hitch and then go, I just turned around and ran as hard as I could. I looked back, and I knew he was going to throw it my way because 8 is their dude. I felt him right on my back and I just tried to keep pushing him to the sidelines because I know that he would have to catch it out of bounds."
Haden broke up the pass with help coming from Wright on the play. It forced Bama into long second and third down situations and eventually a punt. After Florida scored again to take an 11-point lead, Haden intercepted Wilson to seal the win.
"At first, you look at it and it looked like someone stepped on him, but then he comes back and makes a play on a pass and then the interception at the end," defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said.
Now Haden will have the task of trying to cover Oklahoma's offense that has the nation's third best passing attack.
Haden Redeemed Himself with Big Plays
Fightin Gators Top Stories
Gators and More Podcast: Sept. 30The Florida Gators try to lick their wounds this week and head to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. An early kick is something the Gators usually don't…
Fightin Gators2:21 PM
Behind Enemy Lines: VanderbiltFightinGators.com takes a look at Florida's opponent, Vanderbilt. What should the Gators expect?
Fightin Gators7:59 AM
Gators Offer Jaylin SimpsonFlorida offers 2019 cornerback Jaylin Simpson after his visit to The Swamp. Simpson discusses the Gators and more with Scout's FightinGators.com.
Fightin Gators7:13 AM
Gator Blitz: Recruiting Update 9/30No visitors this weekend for Florida football, however, plenty of big talking points surrounding Gators football recruiting. Find out who is expected on campus soon and are there…
Fightin Gators6:45 AM