Odds and Ends: Who were those guys?

Florida made a curious choice for the SEC Championship Game. The team opted to wear the white helmet that made its debut last week against FSU again. More than one person noted before the game that the all white uniform and helmet made the Gators look like Miami.

They proceeded to go out and play like Miami did against Alabama in the 1992 season's national title game - sloppy and undisciplined. The result was the same kind of beatdown from Alabama that Canes team received - 34-13 then, 32-13 for UF.  

Florida's self destructive week that began with Carlos Dunlap's DUI arrest and suspension continued with multiple critical penalties to assist Alabama drives. With the score still within reasonable rallying distance at 26-13 midway through the third quarter, the Gators had stopped Alabama for just the second time all game. It was going to be four plays and out. Instead, an offsides penalty on Jaye Howard gave Alabama another shot with 3rd-and-2 instead of 7. They converted and went on to hold the ball the remainder of the quarter and into the fourth before putting the game away with another touchdown. The 17-play, 88-yard drive put the game completely out of reach at 32-13.  


With the score 32-13, Dunlap put out a Facebook status update saying "I have faith and conviction that my boyz got this one still...." Faith is nice, but No. 8 at defensive end would have been a lot more helpful. Bama exploited Florida's inability to get pressure without blitzing early, going with a surprising 50-50 mix of pass and run in the first quarter while racking up 119 yards and 9 points.  

Later, when Florida began to blitz to try and get to Greg McElroy, the Tide caught Florida with a screen pass to Mark Ingram with the Gators in a corner blitz. The resulting 69 yard gain set up a Bama touchdown and immediately stopped all momentum UF had gained from a four play touchdown drive that cut the score to 12-10.  


The Crimson Tide's demolition of Florida's defense was total. Alabama running back Mark Ingram scored three touchdowns on the ground, matching the amount the Gator D had given up that way for the rest of the season combined. Alabama's 490 yards more than doubled UF's season average of 233 allowed per game, and had the Crimson Tide not been looking to run clock late it could have been worse.  

"It came down to missed tackles," said Urban Meyer. "There's two huge plays in the first half and one was just a hitch where the guy came out of it and then the screen play. Those are very uncharacteristic of a good defense to give up big plays."  


On the second play of the game, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow hit Jeffrey Demps in the hands with a pass near the sideline. It appeared Demps could have picked up big yards, possibly even scored, but he dropped it. For whatever reason, Demps and the rest of the running back position basically disappeared from the gameplan after that. Gator tailbacks had a combined four carries for the game.  

According to Demps, there wasn't anything special strategically Alabama did that took the running game away. He credited their effort overall, saying "They came out and played their heart out tonight." Demps gained nine yards on his only carry, and Brandon James and Chris Rainey had an eight and nine yard run respectively. For whatever reason, those would be the only chances they got with the ball in their hands.  


Wide receiver and kick returner Brandon James missed the second half as a result of a stress fracture in his foot. It's not clear if the senior will be available for Floirda's bowl.  


Florida is expected to receive a bid to fill the SEC Champion spot in the Sugar Bowl. The game will be played in New Orleans on January 1. Meyer's confident his team will not allow their disappointment from the loss to lead to a subpar bowl showing the way Alabama did last season.  

"If I had a bunch of bad guys in that locker room, that'd be an issue. I don't think that it is."  

The opponent is likely to be either Big East champ Cincinnati or TCU.

Fightin Gators Top Stories