Now that you have already taken a gander from a Florida perspective on what Florida has to do to win the football game, let’s jump right into how Alabama can take advantage of the Gators.
Win the special teams battle: While Florida does have a few advantages in special teams, namely their speed in blocking punts and field goal kicker Caleb Sturgis, who is perfect on the year, Alabama has the better special teams group as a whole. This game will be about field position because these two great defenses will be gritting their teeth and trying to force their will on the other. So the better field position either team has will likely be a good indicator of who wins the football game. I’m not sure either team can sustain multiple 80-yard drives because the defenses are simply too good. Alabama is second in punt returns right now, and Marquis Maze showed last week why he is so dominant in the return game. If Alabama wants to win on the road in The Swamp, the special teams play has to be a major factor, which absolutely leads to better starting field position.
Play man-coverage with the corners: Alabama’s corners are good enough to play man-coverage on Florida because of the simple fact the Gators lack any down-field threat at all in the receiving department. Florida’s leading receivers are the running backs, and that should tell you the receivers have been very unproductive so far. So, I fully expect Alabama to play man-coverage on the outside and stack the box with eight players and make John Brantley beat them throwing the ball. Sounds simple, right? It’s no mystery Florida will try and run the football and mix in play-action. I’m no defensive genius, but if I’m Nick Saban, I’m making John Brantley beat me on more than one deep pass before I back off the line of scrimmage at all. Both teams will try to make the quarterbacks the main focal point of the offense, and neither team is built for that type of scenario.
Get Trent Richardson one-on-one in the flat: Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain should have been taking good notes last week when the Tide abused Arkansas’ defense. There was not a better play in the playbook that game than when AJ McCarron was feeling the heat and threw a screen pass or dumped the football off to Richardson in the flat. And while I agree Florida’s linebackers can run with Richardson in the flat and cover him, he’s like a mack truck to bring down. You have to gang tackle this cat. Florida’s linebacker Jelani Jenkins will likely meet Richardson one-on-one in the flat. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get trucked again like he did in high school. Richardson had 85 yards receiving on three catches with one 61-yard touchdown last week. I expect Alabama’s offense to screen, draw and throw dump passes to the running backs out of the backfield until Florida stops it.