Gator Secondary has Dual Focus

It is widely known that Alabama has a big time running game and that is what they will lead with when playing Florida this weekend in Atlanta. But the other facet of the offense at Alabama can be just as dangerous. Julio Jones and Marquis Maze are a terrific receiver tandem for Alabama and compliment the running game in a way that makes the offense very dangerous.

There is no doubt when stopping Alabama you have to think run first. The running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson are likely the best power back combination in the country. The Florida safeties Ahmad Black, Major Wright, and Will Hill will have their hands full as they watch the passing game, but they have to think run first in eyeballing the Crimson Tide's attack.

"The tandem running backs, any one of them would be the best you've seen," assistant defensive coordinator and secondary coach Chuck heater said earlier this week. "Two on the same team is a (great) combination. Julio Jones and Marquis Maze are excellent players. They have legitimate guys that can beat you outside and those running backs. That makes them real imposing offensively."

Play action is a big part of the Bama attack and so the Florida safeties will have to be very alert for the play fakes that can leave them out of position on plays.

"They play action on early downs and take shots down field with guys that can legitimately run...that is the biggest challenge," Heater said of the swift receivers. "To run that offense, they have to have that kind of receiver."

But, his guys have to come up and help with the running game.

"We have safeties in particular play that are responsible for the run predominantly, that is how we kind of operate anyway," he said. "So, as long as the other guy doesn't do something he isn't supposed to do we will be alright. The running backs, make it more challenging, but we will keep operating like we have been operating."

For the second year in a row, the secondary's primary concern will be to stop 6-4, 211-pound receiver Julio Jones. Jones had a slow start this year as they had a hard time getting him the ball. As the season moved on, Alabama has made it a point to get the ball in his hands and let him do some damage.

Both of Florida's starting cornerbacks, Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins, stand 5-11 and give up five inches to Jones. Heater doesn't believe it is a huge concern.

"It's funny that people make that commentary," Heater said about questions of being concerned over the height differential. "The reality is it is always the way it is. If you have six-foot corners, you are doing very well and if you have a 6-4 receiver, (the corner) is always outmatched. If you were worried about that you wouldn't recruit any corners."

"You can't worry about it, you obviously have to find some ways to help them. It is a reality and Julio is a real factor with his size, strength, and aggressiveness to the football. We have seen those guys this year, so we have to go out and do our job and make some plays and not over react to it when they do (make some plays)."

Julio Jones had 124 yards on five receptions in the game last year; 64 yards came on one play. The Alabama tailbacks combined for 133 yards on the day. The Gators will want to do just a little better than that this year against the Tide, and it will take great play from the secondary to do so.

Fightin Gators Top Stories