Scouting Alabama Defense and Special Teams

Florida and Alabama are one, two in the SEC in just about every meaningful statistical category. Alabama allows its opponents just 11 points and 234 yards a game. They are the toughest team in the SEC and second toughest in the nation to run against, surrendering just 77 yards a game on the ground. They have also forced 25 turnovers.

Another complication is the fact that they play a three man front which Florida has seen very little of this year.

It starts up front with behemoth NG Terrence Cody. Florida blocked him well last year and will have to do so again. Lorenzo Washington and Brandon Deaderick are big, strong DE in the 6-4, 290 range, again something Florida has seen little of. Marcell Dareus comes in on passing downs and is an excellent pass rusher.

The LB group is the best in the SEC and, in my opinion the nation. MLB Rolando McClain would be my choice for the SEC defensive player of the year. He has 96 tackles, 12 for losses with four sacks. He also has intercepted two passes. He's a great player. Eric Anders is very good on the outside and like McClain is an excellent blitzer (5 sacks). Add in Cory Reamer and Nico Johnson and you have a lot of size, speed and intensity.

The secondary is improved thanks largely to the maturation of CB Javier Arenas (64, 12, 5) and strong safety Mark Barron (63, 7 INT). Barron should join Eric Berry of Tennessee as the All-SEC safeties. FS Justin Woodall adds three more picks. The other corner Kareem Jackson might be the guy to target in the passing game.

Overall this is a tremendous defense with talent everywhere.

Alabama Special Teams ----

Nick Saban teams are always good in these areas and this squad is no exception. Kicker Leigh Tiffin (27-31, long-50) is outstanding even though he struggled in the Auburn game. PJ Fitzgerald is a good punter who averages 42.1 with 16 downed inside the 20. They have blocked two punts and two FG. Javier Arenas is Bama's answer to Brandon James and has had a better year. He averages 16.6 on PR with a TC and 29.5 on kickoff returns. Bama covers punts very well, but has given up 2 KOR for TD. Those returns however came in the first two games of the season.


Florida and Alabama have played seven common opponents, six of them in the SEC. The Gators have outperformed the Crimson Tide marginally against the seven teams, but Bama is slightly better if you only consider the SEC opponents.

Common opponents     Florida          Opponent      Alabama
                                        23-20         Arkansas          35-7
                                        41-7           Kentucky         38-20
                                        23-13         Tennessee         12-10
                                        13-3            LSU                24-15
                                        24-14         S. Carolina       20-6
                                        29-19         Miss. State       31-3
                                        62-3           FIU                  40-14

                                        31-11         Avg. Score       29-11
                                        26-13         Avg. SEC        27-10


The biggest difference between them in SEC play is the two interceptions for TD by Mississippi State against the Gators.

Obviously Florida and Alabama are remarkably similar football teams. Both rely on ball control offenses, dominant defenses and superb special teams. Florida deserved the nod on Monday, but after the suspension of Carlos Dunlap this game seems to close to call.

And I can't wait to call it on Saturday. See for yourself on Breakfast with the Gators Sunday morning at 8:30 on Sun Sports.

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